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First case of Tularemia in eight years hits Delaware

Last month, the Delaware Public Health Laboratory confirmed the first case of tularemia in the state since 2003. The afflicted Kent County man was hospitalized and undergoing treatment for the disease caused by an infectious bacterium.

According to the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS), “Tularemia is associated with tick bites and is not spread person to person. Domestic cats are very susceptible to tularemia and have been known to transmit the bacteria to humans. Humans can become infected by handling infected animal tissue when hunting or skinning infected rabbits, muskrats and other rodents; by inhaling dust or aerosols contaminated with the bacteria, such as during farming or landscaping activities, especially when tractors or mowers run over an infected animal or carcass. The disease can also be transmitted by drinking untreated water contaminated with the bacteria introduced by animal contact.”

Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in many parts of the United States. It is caused by the infectious bacterium Francisella tularensis. A small number of organisms can cause disease and the organism has even been researched as a potential biological weapon.

“During most years the entire nation typically sees less than 200 cases of the disease,” reported Susan White, Ph.D., CMC. Dr. White is the President of Sussex Environmental Health Consultants (SEHC), a leading indoor air quality (IAQ) and infectious disease prevention consulting firm. “The illness can be fatal if it is not treated with the correct antibiotics. There are environmental testing options that can identify the presence of the bacteria. People need to be aware that this disease exists and can be a real threat, especially for people who come in contact with ticks and infected animals that can include cats and hares,” she continued.

by S. C.
08 november 2011, World News > America

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