Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares, and rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including:

  • Tick and deer fly bites
  • Skin contact with infected animals
  • Ingestion of contaminated water
  • Inhalation of contaminated aerosols or agricultural dusts
  • Laboratory exposure

In addition, humans could be exposed as a result of bioterrorism.

Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Steps to prevent tularemia include:

  • Use of insect repellent
  • Wearing gloves when handling sick or dead animals
  • Avoiding mowing over dead animals

In the United States, naturally occurring infections have been reported from all states except Hawaii.