Sick rabbit confirms Tularemia outbreak found in Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Larimer County is warning about an outbreak of tularemia among wild rabbits.

Health officials said tularemia is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted to humans by the handling of sick or dead animals infected with tularemia. Humans can also get infected if they are bit by an infected tick or deer fly, by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and by inhaling airborne bacteria.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment issued an alert to residents of Hahn Acres, Linden Park, Paragon Estates, and homes in the Paragon Point subdivision along Southridge Greens Blvd. after a wild rabbit was found with tularemia.

"There has been a die-off of rabbits in the area over the past few weeks, but until an animal was tested today, the cause of the die-off was unknown," officials said.

Typical signs of infection in humans are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Officials said tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Dogs and cats also get tularemia by eating infected rabbits or other rodents and through tick and deer fly bites. If your pet shows symptoms of illness including fever, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores, take it to the veterinarian promptly.

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