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A Weld County resident living southeast of Erie was diagnosed with tularemia last week.  The resident was hospitalized with a high fever, loss of appetite, and acute diarrhea and is now recovering at home. 

This is the first human case of tularemia in Weld County this year. Also, a field mouse in northwest Johnstown and a rabbit southeast of Berthoud tested positive for tularemia. Tularemia has also been known as rabbit fever.

Weld County Public Health officials recommend the following precautions:

  •  Avoid all contact with wild animals such as squirrels and rabbits; do not feed or handle them. If a dead animal must be moved, place it in a garbage bag using a long-handled shovel, and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Do not wear sandals or walk barefoot in an area where animals have been seen sick or dead. The tularemia bacteria can persist in the environment, such as soil and water, for weeks to months.
  • Stay out of areas inhabited by wild animals or rodents. If you must enter areas frequented by wild animals, always wear a repellent that is effective against ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes and that contains DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Do not mow over animal carcasses, and consider using a dust mask when mowing.
  • Prevent pets from hunting or eating wild rodents or rabbits. Infected pets, such as cats, may transmit the disease to people. Contact a veterinarian if a pet becomes ill.

 SYMPTOMS OF TULAREMIA 

Symptoms of tularemia can include abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, difficulty breathing, bloody sputum, and respiratory failure. Other symptoms can include skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, diarrhea, or pneumonia. 

[Weld County Department of Health]