Yet another tick-borne illness has reared its ugly head in new England. Cases of tularemia have surfaced on Martha's Vineyard. Like Lyme disease and babesiosis, tularemia is most often passed to humans via tick bite. People can also be infected via deerfly bites, animal bites, inhaling dried tick feces and by eating the meat of infected animals.
Tularemia is caused by the bacteria F. tularensis, which is carried by many animals, amphibians and fish, but is most frequently associated with rabbits. Tularemia is often referred to as rabbit fever or deer fly fever. The disease is most common in hunters and trappers, but anyone who enjoys the great outdoors is at risk. The dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick and lone star tick can transmit the disease.
Tularemia primarily affects the liver, spleen and lymph nodes. Symptoms usually surface within two weeks and may include:
A course of antibiotics has been effective in treating the disease.
There is a vaccine available for tularemia that is recommended for hunters and those who work outdoors or with game animals.
Here's how you can avoid tick-borne diseases