Tularemia is a rare bacterial infection. The effects of the infection will depend on where the exposure occurs. It can be deadly if not treated.
Tularemia is caused by specific bacteria. It is normally found in small animals, such as mice and rabbits. The bacteria can pass to humans through:
The infection does not pass between people.
Factors that increase your risk of tularemia include:
Symptoms usually occur 3-5 days after exposure. The symptoms will depend on where the bacteria entered the body, the type and amount of bacteria you were exposed to, and your immune system.
Pneumonic symptoms (lung problems):
Ulceroglandular symptoms (skin and lymph gland problems):
Glandular symptoms (problems in lymph nodes):
Oculoglandular symptoms (problems in eyes and lymph nodes):
Oropharyngeal symptoms (mouth and throat problems):
Typhoidal symptoms (full body problems):
Symptoms of progression from other types:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked about possible sources of exposure. A physical exam will also be done.
Your doctor may look for signs of the infection through:
A chest x-ray may also be done if there are problems with your lungs.
Antibiotics can treat most tularemia infections. The first few doses of antibiotics will be injected in a muscle or given through a vein. You may need to take antibiotics by mouth for a few days after the initial dose. Treatment can last for 10-14 days. Make sure to take all of your medication even if you feel better.
Tularemia infections are reported to public health officials. This will help them track any outbreaks.
Measures to prevent the disease include:
The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Public Health Agency of Canada
AAP Red Book: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 27th ed. American Academy of Pediatrics; 2006.
Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. WB Saunders Company; 2004.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/tularemia/. Updated January 11, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 2006 ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2005.
Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. Churchill Livingstone Inc.; 2004.
Tularemia. Illinois Department of Public Health website. Available at: http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/hb/hbtulare.htm. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Tularemia. US Army Center for Health Promotion and preventive Medicine website. Available at: http://phc.amedd.army.mil/PHC%20Resource%20Library/18-006-0406-Tularemia-JusttheFactsApril2006.pdf. Updated April 2006. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Last reviewed December 2013 by David L Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.