Published On: Thu, Nov 28th, 2013

CDC: More than 1,200 tularemia cases reported in the US last decade

Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever and deer fly fever, is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. This bacterium is found in nature in rabbits, rodents, beavers, squirrels and several domestic and farm animals.

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia commons

Public domain image/Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia commons

The bacterium is highly infectious and can be transmitted to humans through arthropod bites, direct contact with infected animal tissue, inhalation of contaminated aerosols, and ingestion of contaminated food or water.

It is classified as a Tier 1 select agent because of its bioterrorism potential.

In the United States it is relatively rare and has been reported from all the states except Hawaii.

According to the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that during the past decade (2001-2010), a total of 1,208 cases were reported.

The CDC defines a confirmed case of tularemia is defined as clinically compatible illness with either a four-fold or greater change in serum antibody titer to F. tularensis antigen or isolation of F. tularensis from a clinical specimen.

This number is nearly identical to the number reported during the previous decade (1991-2000) when the total cases was 1,216.

From 2001-2010, cases of tularemia were reported from 47 states with six states accounting for nearly six out of 10 cases: Missouri (19%), Arkansas (13%), Oklahoma (9%), Massachusetts (7%), South Dakota (5%), and Kansas (5%).

Some other interesting data referenced in the MMWR include the incidence was highest among children aged 5–9 years and men aged >55 years, the majority of cases (77%) occurred during May through September and among the 10 states with the highest incidence of tularemia, all but Massachusetts were located in the central or western United States.

In fact, Massachusetts saw a 155 percent increase in tularemia cases during the last decade.

After infection with F. tularensis, incubation can be a couple of days to weeks, with non-specific symptoms like fever, chills, headache, sore throat and diarrhea.

The way the organism enters the body frequently dictates the disease and degree of systemic involvement. The six syndromes are ulceroglandular, glandular, oculoglandular, oropharyngeal, typhoidal and the one with the highest mortality rate, pneumonic tularemia.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Tularemia cases reported in Coconino County, AZ; 1st in county in a decade | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] CDC: More than 1,200 tularemia cases reported in the US last decade […]

  2. Colorado: Human tularemia cases up 5-times annual average in 2014 | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from one year go, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that during the past decade (2001-2010), a total of 1,208 cases were […]

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