More rabbit fever or tularemia cases have been reported this year, indicating the disease is making a comeback in United States.
Rabbit fever is making a resurgence in the United States, the latest CDC report indicates.
Rabbit fever or tularemia is a rare but serious kind of disease. After being eliminated in United States decades ago, it seems that the disease is making a comeback. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an unusual surge has been observed in the cases of rabbit fever in four states – Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska.
Since 1984, health officials have seen an average of only 125 cases each year of the disease but this year there have already been 235 cases reported including the death of an elderly man.
"This was something we noticed happening here in Nebraska, and when we contacted our colleagues in neighboring states, they were having similar experiences." Dr. Caitlin Pedati,of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and lead researcher from CDC told Live Science.
Officials are unsure what caused the sudden spike but they speculate that may be the weather conditions that are suitable for bacteria to thrive and the increased populations of rabbits and rodents might help the disease to spread and rise.
Rabbit fever is a bacterial disease that infects humans when they directly make contact with affected animal especially rabbits, rodents and cats. The bacteria can also enter human body through tick and fleas bites, drinking contaminated water or inhaling contaminated dust.
Tularemia can be life-threatening but most of the times it is treated successfully with antibiotics. Symptoms include sudden fever, headaches, aches, joint pain, vomiting, pink eye, weakness and trouble breathing. Though, symptoms often depend on how the humans were exposed to the disease.
Researchers urge residents especially in the affected states to be aware of the risk and to take precautionary measures to prevent the spread of disease or possible outbreak.
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“Health care providers should be aware of the elevated risk for tularemia within these states and consider a diagnosis of tularemia in any person nationwide with compatible signs and symptoms. Residents and visitors to these areas should regularly use insect repellent, wear gloves when handling animals and avoid mowing in areas where sick or dead animals have been reported.