Tularemia, sometimes also called rabbit fever, is an infectious disease caused by Francisella tularensis. This bacterium infects a wide range of animals, among which it is transmitted by ticks and deer ked. A human can also become infected, either through the aforementioned vectors or by ingesting contaminated meat or water. Infection can also spread through the air.
When bitten by a tick or a deer ked, the pathogen penetrates the skin and the incubation period of the disease is one to fourteen days. Skin lesions form at the injection site and the bacteria spread to the body. This is associated with high fevers, a strong swelling of the lymph nodes that can rot and rupture, and exhaustion.
Diagnosis includes lymph node biopsy, cultivation of pathogens on bacteriological soils, serology, or PCR with specific primers.
Treatment is usually with antibiotics, either streptomycin or gentamycin. Doxycycline may also be used.
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