Tularemia infects Mesa County woman; Residents urged to take precautions
Tularemia has been confirmed in a Mesa County woman. She was likely exposed through a bite from a deer fly or tick while on public lands near the Colorado River in Mesa County.
Mesa County Health Department reminds residents that the bacteria that causes tularemia has been found in rabbits in Mesa County and may affect squirrels, beaver, muskrats and other rodents, as well as pets and some livestock. It’s common to have animals test positive for tularemia each summer, however this is only the second human case in Mesa County in the last decade.
The State of Colorado has seen elevated numbers of human cases of tularemia so far this year. Sixteen cases were confirmed statewide in 2014, compared with 15 cases recorded to date this year.
The Bureau of Land Management and Mesa County Health Department urge residents to take precautions while in areas where wildlife is active. “We hope people will take the necessary precautions to avoid insect bites while enjoying their public lands” said Collin Ewing BLM National Conservation Area manager.
Take these precautions to avoid being exposed to tularemia:
Do not handle or feed wild animals.
Use insect repellant with DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks to keep tick and deer flies off your skin.
Tularemia causing bacteria can become airborne when soil is disturbed. Wear a mask while mowing or weed-whacking to avoid breathing in dust if wildlife crosses your property often.
If you need to dispose of an animal carcass on your property, wear gloves and use a long-handled shovel to place it in a garbage bag, and then place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.
Protect your pets. Prevent them from hunting or eating wild animals. Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
Tularemia is treatable. Contact your health care provider if you notice symptoms including sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, swollen glands, dry cough, progressive weakness, an infected ulcer-like bite and difficulty breathing.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed around 9 p.m. Thursday for a flash flood warning.