Mesa County rabbit tests positive for tularemia |

Mesa County rabbit tests positive for tularemia

Rabbit on green grass in the garden
Getty Images/Ingram Publishing | Ingram Publishing

A rabbit from the east side of Colorado National Monument has tested positive for tularemia. Residents should be aware tularemia could present in animals anywhere in Mesa County.

Mesa County Health Department has received reports of multiple rabbits dying in the area. Bikers, hikers, gardeners and pet owners should take prudent precautions to avoid contact with wildlife.

The State of Colorado has seen elevated numbers of human cases so far, this year. A total of 16 human cases were confirmed, last year, compared with 15 cases recorded to date, this year.


Many animals, including rodents, voles, squirrels and rabbits carry the bacterial disease. Infected animals may have a high fever, swollen glands or skin ulcers and will be lethargic.

Do not handle or feed wild animals.

Tularemia is spread most often through flea and tick bites. Wear insect repellent with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Tularemia causing bacteria can become airborne when soil is disturbed, so if you have wildlife dying or crossing your property often, wear a mask when mowing or weed-whacking to avoid breathing in dust.

Your pets can pass the disease on to you. Check them for ticks and fleas and keep them away from carcasses. If your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes, see your veterinarian.

If you need to dispose of an animal carcass on your property, place it in a garbage bag, using a long-handled shovel and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.

Tularemia is treatable with antibiotics. See a health care provider if you become ill with high fever, swollen and painful lymph nodes, skin ulcers, sore throat or respiratory symptoms, such as chest pain or a dry cough.

Mesa County Health Department monitors and investigates cases of tularemia within the county.

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