New Mexico officials confirm third human case of tularemia
The new case is a 71-year-old man who lives in Bernalillo County.
The department’s Scientific Laboratory Division confirmed the new case as well as two previous cases. Those patients were a 42-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man, both from Bernalillo County, who have recovered from their illness.
The department states all three people caught Tularemia via deer fly bites.
“Tularemia can cause serious illness in both people and pets so I would encourage people around the state to follow precautions similar to reducing risk to plague,” Retta Ward, Department of Health cabinet secretary, said. “People can get tularemia if they handle infected animals such as rabbits or rodents or are bitten by infected ticks or deer flies.”
Paul Ettestad, the health department's public health veterinarian, said the rabbit population has increased dramatically in many areas of the state this summer due to abundant rainfall and vegetation, and a lot of them have been getting sick and dying from tularemia.
This has led to an increase in both human and pet cases of tularemia with various types of exposures, including bites from infected insects, bites from infected cats, and handling of infected rabbit carcasses.
“The city of Albuquerque maintains a surveillance program for tularemia in wild animals,” Paul Smith, manager of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department Urban Biology Division, said. “We encourage people to report dead animals that have not died from obvious trauma by calling 311 so that we can collect them for testing.”