Tularemia is a disease caused by an infection with bacteria called Francisella tularensis. People can be exposed to the bacteria in a number of ways, and the symptoms of the disease vary depending upon the method of exposure. Regardless of the way the disease is contracted, most people with tularemia develop a sudden fever. Other symptoms can include chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness. Symptoms typically begin three to five days after exposure to the bacteria.
While tularemia is fatal in some cases, the disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. People who contract tularemia and receive treatment typically recover completely.
Humans can be infected with tularemia through the bite of an infected tick, deerfly or other insect, by handling infected animal carcasses, eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water or by breathing in the bacteria.
Tularemia in Vermont
Tularemia is a rare disease in Vermont. The last major outbreak in the state occurred in 1968 when 47 people in Addison County were diagnosed within a four-week period. Everyone who fell ill in that outbreak had a history of handling or trapping muskrats. There has only been one reported case in Vermont since 2011. That case occurred in 2014.
Two of the tick species that can transmit tularemia to humans can be found in Vermont.The American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, is found throughout the state while the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum, may be present in parts of southern Vermont only. The deer flies that can transmit tularemia (Chrysops species) have only been known to do so in the western U.S.
For more information on tularemia, please visit the CDC Website