Small mammal tularemia is an infectious bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It can be found in a variety of wild animals, such as rabbits, hares, voles, mice, and other small mammals. The most common way humans are infected with this disease is through contact with an infected animal’s blood or tissue. Humans can become infected by breathing in dust or aerosols containing the bacteria, consuming contaminated food or water, or through a tick or deer fly bite.
Symptoms of small mammal tularemia vary depending on how the person was infected. If a person has been bitten by an infected animal, the symptoms can include fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and a skin ulcer at the site of the bite. If a person has inhaled the bacteria, they may experience chest pain, coughing, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia. Other symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.
Treatment for small mammal tularemia typically involves antibiotics such as streptomycin or tetracycline. In addition to medical treatment, it is important to avoid contact with infected animals and to practice good hygiene. This includes washing hands after handling animals or their feces and avoiding areas where wild animals are known to inhabit. Vaccines are also available for those at high risk of exposure, such as hunters, trappers, and scientists who work with the bacteria.
If left untreated, small mammal tularemia can be potentially fatal. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you think you may be infected.
Symptoms of Small Mammal Tularemia
- Joint pain
- Skin ulcer at the site of the bite (if bitten by an infected animal)
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Abdominal pain
Diagnosing Small Mammal Tularemia
Diagnosing small mammal tularemia is typically made by a combination of physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging. Tests used to diagnose the disease include blood tests to detect antibodies to the bacteria, urine tests to look for bacteria in the urine, chest X-rays to look for pneumonia, and a throat culture to look for the bacteria. In some cases, a tissue sample may also be taken for analysis.
Stages of Small Mammal Tularemia
The stages of tularemia in small mammals can be divided into three phases: the incubation period, acute phase, and recovery.
During the incubation period, which typically lasts between 3 to 5 days, an infected animal might have no signs or symptoms of the disease.
During the acute phase, which usually lasts 1-2 weeks, affected animals can have fever, chills, difficulty breathing, and lethargy.
The recovery phase typically lasts between 1-2 weeks and is associated with a gradual improvement in their symptoms.
Treating Small Mammal Tularemia
Treating Tularemia in Small Mammals typically involves the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline are commonly used to treat the disease. In addition, supportive care such as fluids, nutrition, and rest can also be necessary to help the animal recover. If the infection is severe or life-threatening, more aggressive treatments will be needed.
Preventing Small Mammal Tularemia
The best way to prevent small mammal tularemia is to maintain good hygiene practices. This includes keeping cages and other equipment clean, washing your hands after handling animals, avoiding contact with wild or domestic animals that could be infected, and limiting the number of animals in a given area. Owners should be sure to monitor their pets for any signs of illness or unusual behavior. If they think that their pet could be infected, they should take it to a veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment.