2nd human case of 'rabbit fever' found in Larimer County; Tularemia treatable if detected early

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Health officials in northern Colorado say a second person has become sick with tularemia, which is also known as "rabbit fever."

Larimer and Weld County officials in a statement Tuesday said a Larimer County resident became sick with the bacterial infection while mowing a property near Windsor. Symptoms include fever, sore throat and swollen glands and can be fatal if untreated.

Tularemia is often transmitted by people handling infected rabbits, hares, beavers, and muskrats. It can also remain in animal feces and urine for up to a month.

Larimer County health officials said the first human case was reported July 16 in Broomfield where numerous dead rabbits were found.

In July, Broomfield officials said it was likely the resident was infected after coming in contact with dead rabbits had previously been found in the person's yard.

Tularemia can afflict both animals and humans. It's caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

Although tularemia is a potentially serious disease, it is treatable if detected early, Broomfield officials said. The resident has been treated with antibiotics after being evaluated by a healthcare provider.

Health officials said a rabbit die off in Fort Collins last month and in Jefferson County this month was caused by tularemia.

People can also contract tularemia if they are bit by an infected tick or deer fly, eat or drink contaminated food or water, or inhale airborne bacteria, health 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.

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, officials say.

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