Health Officials Say Take Precautions Against Tularemia

Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health and Wyoming Game and Fish Department are reminding hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of tularemia while enjoying the outdoors.

This disease has been unusually active this year, they said, so it’s particularly important to follow some common sense precautions to avoid being infected.

According to a news release, they say: use an insect repellent that’s effective against ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes; wear gloves when field dressing any harvested animal; cook meat thoroughly before eating; and avoid handling sick wildlife or drinking unpurified water from lakes and streams.

Tularemia, according to health and wildlife officials, is generally a disease of rabbits, muskrats, beavers and squirrels, but can be transmitted to many other species through the bites of infected ticks and biting flies. So far this year, according to the state health department, there have been 16 documented human cases found in Wyoming.

Symptoms of the disease in humans can include fever, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers, headache, joint pain and pneumonia. The disease can be transmitted any time of the year, but the prevalence decreases after the first hard frost, which reduces the numbers of ticks and flies that transmit the disease.