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Signs & Symptoms

Image: An ulcer on the exterior of a left thumb.

An ulcer caused by Francisella tularensis.

The signs and symptoms of tularemia vary depending on how the bacteria enters the body. Illness ranges from mild to life-threatening. All forms are accompanied by fever, which can be as high as 104 °F. Main forms of this disease are listed below:

  • Ulceroglandular This is the most common form of tularemia and usually occurs following a tick or deer fly bite or after handing of an infected animal. A skin ulcer appears at the site where the organism entered the body. The ulcer is accompanied by swelling of regional lymph glands, usually in the armpit or groin.
  • Glandular Similar to ulceroglandular tularemia but without an ulcer. Also generally acquired through the bite of an infected tick or deer fly or from handling sick or dead animals.
  • Oculoglandular This form occurs when the bacteria enter through the eye. This can occur when a person is butchering an infected animal and touches his or her eyes. Symptoms include irritation and inflammation of eye and swelling of lymph glands in front of the ear.
  • Oropharyngeal This form results from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Patients with orophyangeal tularemia may have sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and swelling of lymph glands in the neck.
  • Pneumonic This is the most serious form of tularemia. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. This form results from breathing dusts or aerosols containing the organism. It can also occur when other forms of tularemia (e.g. ulceroglandular) are left untreated and the bacteria spread through the bloodstream to the lungs.
 
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