Rabbit fever appears again in Mesa County

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO)-- Another rabbit tested positive for rabbit fever in Mesa County, southwest of Fruita, the health department said Tuesday.

Rabbit Fever, also known as tularemia is a bacterial disease transmitted through direct contact with infected animals like rabbits, squirrels, muskrats and other rodents through tick and deer fly bites, according to the Mesa County Health Department.

This is the second rabbit to test positive for tularemia this summer, found in a popular recreational space for hikers, bikers and rafters.

Health officials found the first rabbit on the east side of the Redlands.

The Centers for Disease Control said domestic cats are very susceptible to tularemia and have been known to transmit the bacteria to humans.

In the United States, the CDC said ticks that transmit tularemia to humans include the dog tick, the wood tick, and the lone star tick. Deer flies have been shown to transmit tularemia in the western United States.

BLM and health officials said residents should take the following precautions to prevent exposure:

-Do not handle or feed wild animals.
- Use insect repellant with DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to keep tick and deer flies off your skin.
- Tularemia bacteria can become airborne when soil is disturbed. Avoid grassy and brushy areas when recreating outdoors.
- Do not handle or drink untreated water.
- Protect your pets. Prevent them from hunting or eating wild animals. Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
-If you need to dispose of an animal carcass on your property, wear gloves and use a long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage bag, and then place the bag in an outdoor
garbage can.

Health officials said tularemia is treatable. Symptoms include sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, swollen glands, dry cough, progressive weakness, an infected ulcer-like bite and difficulty breathing.

According to the CDC, 16 cases were reporting in Colorado in 2014.

More information from the CDC can be found to the right of this article by clicking on the link.

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