Tularemia is an illness caused by a bacterium, Francisella tularensis, which can affect both animals
and humans. F. tularensis is on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list of possible
How is tularemia spread?
The most common way tularemia is spread is by the
bite of an infected blood-sucking insect such as a
deerfly or tick.
Another way people become infected
with tularemia is by getting blood or tissue from
infected animals (especially rabbits) in their eyes,
mouth, or in cuts or scratches on the skin.
can also be spread by handling or eating rabbit meat
that is not cooked thoroughly.
contaminated water or breathing dust containing the
bacteria can cause a tularemia infection.
person spread does not occur.
In a biological attack,
tularemia would be spread through an aerosol
release of the bacteria.
What are the symptoms of tularemia?
The usual symptoms are:
Infected with tularemia by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch may cause:
drinking food or water containing the bacteria may
Breathing dust containing the bacteria
may cause a pneumonia-like illness.
Is there a treatment for tularemia?
Doctors can prescribe antibiotics for tularemia. To be
effective, treatment should be started early. If left
untreated, the disease can be fatal.
Is there a vaccine for tularemia?
A tularemia vaccine is currently under investigation,
but is not available to the general public.
Should I buy a gas mask?
Purchasing a gas mask is not currently
recommended for the following reasons:
If an attack occurs, the types of agents and
concentrations are unknown and therefore it is
almost impossible to accurately select a mask.
Gas masks may reduce, but do not eliminate
exposure to chemical or biological agents. They
do not eliminate the risk of infection.
There may be no obvious warning in the event of
a biological or chemical attack, so you would not
be able to determine when to put the mask on.
Gas masks may help protect your lungs,
however, some chemical agents may be absorbed
through the skin or eyes.
Negative pressure masks can be dangerous for
children or people with respiratory problems.
Should I have my own supply of antibiotics?
There is currently no justification for stockpiling
antibiotics. Antibiotics could cause side effects and
should only be taken with medical supervision.
There are a number of different germs a bioterrorist
might use to carry out an attack. Many antibiotics
are effective for a variety of diseases, but there isn’t one antibiotic that is effective against all diseases.
Thus, no single pill can protect against all types of
biological weapon attacks. Keeping a supply of antibiotics on hand poses other problems because
the antibiotics have a limited “shelf life” before they
lose their strength.
How can I protect my family or myself?
Local, state and federal government agencies have
been active in preparing responses to chemical,
biological and nuclear threats.
In the event of a credible tularemia threat, appropriate measures will
be taken to protect the health of the public.
Individuals are strongly cautioned against
stockpiling antibiotics or self-medicating in order to
Where can I get more information?
Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.
Additional information about tularemia can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov.