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Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Feb 18

Written by:
2/18/2013 3:18 PM  RssIcon

A rabbit hunter in eastern North Carolina recently tested positive for tularemia, also commonly called rabbit fever. Another rabbit hunter in the same party also became ill and it is suspected he also has tularemia. Both hunters appear to be recovering, but this serves as an important reminder to all rabbit hunters to learn more about tularemia and to take precautions to prevent contracting the disease.

What is tularemia?Tularemia is a disease caused by a bacteria, Francisella tularensis. The disease occurs naturally worldwide. Itcan be fatal if left untreated.

How can I get tularemia?The most common way people have been infected with tularemia in North Carolina was by handling infected rabbits, a bite from an infected cat, and from a tick bite.  Transmission is also possible from ingestion of undercooked meat, drinking contaminated water, or inhalation of contaminated dust.

How common is tularemia?Tularemia is uncommon in North Carolina, with nine reported cases from 2006 through 2010. However, as these recent cases show, hunters should always take precautions when handling animals.

What are the symptoms of tularemia? Signs usually appear in 3-5 days after exposure. Symptoms are influenza-like,with high fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache and nausea. There is sometimes a skin lesion or ulcer at the place of transmission. Glands or lymph nodes may become swollen and painful. Other signs are skin rash, sore throat, or swollen eyes. It can be treated with antibiotics.

How can I protect myself from tularemia? With these basic precautions, you can still enjoy rabbit hunting and eating your harvested rabbits.

·        When handling rabbits, always wear gloves.

·        Wash your hands after touching any animal, especially before you eat.

·        Cook rabbit meat thoroughly (170 degrees).

·        To prevent tularemia transmission toyour pets, do not feed them raw meat.

·        Wear insect repellents that contain DEET.

·        Only drink water from a safe source.

Written by Colleen Olfenbuttel, bear/furbearer biologist for the Commission.

8 comment(s) so far...


Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

is tularemia more likely occur in game taken in warmer climates ?

By ron marshall on   2/20/2013 1:55 AM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Very informative, thanks for the info!

By mike on   2/20/2013 6:05 AM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Always wear gloves when handling rabbits, unless you are posing for a picture for an article to tell people to always wear gloves when handling rabbits.

By elmer fudd on   2/20/2013 9:08 AM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Nimrod, he is wearing gloves. They're red and fuzzy.

By James on   2/20/2013 1:29 PM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Is this something that can be contracted by domesticated rabbits that are outside?

By Jess on   2/20/2013 3:44 PM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

If the rabbits are housed where they could by bitten by ticks or flies, then there is a risk. However, the disease appears to be less likely in domestic rabbits.

By NCWRC blogger on   2/20/2013 4:39 PM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

Need to be more careful regarding Babesiosis as well, seems a LOT of tick borne "things" are showing up the last few years.

By Glenn on   2/22/2013 6:40 PM

Re: Rabbit Hunters Encouraged to Take Precautions against Tularemia

To the best of my knowledge...disease causes white plaques or spots on the liver...very common disease in Texas and Mexico. That why they are not hunted there....Stan,...Veterinarian and avid rabbit hunter

By Stan Bryan on   2/24/2013 11:19 AM

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