Tularemia warning issued in New Mexico
The warning was issued after a 51-year-old Los Alamos County man received laboratory confirmation from the Scientific Laboratory Division of the Health Department that he has tularemia. He returned home after receiving hospitalization.
Health professionals also have reported 33 tularemia cases in pet cats and dogs so far this year. The pets were located throughout Santa Fe, Torrance, Taos, Los Alamos and Bernalillo counties.
“Tularemia can cause serious illness in both people and pets. I encourage people around the state to follow the same precautions they would to avoid contracting plague, which includes not handling sick or dead animals,” Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward said. “People can get tularemia if they handle infected animals such as rabbits or rodents or if they are bitten by infected ticks or deer flies.”
Symptoms include sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscles aches and joint pain.
“Many areas of the state have seen a large increase in the rabbit population this year and a lot of them have been getting sick and dying from tularemia,” Department of Health Veterinarian Paul Ettestad said. “Oftentimes when there is a rabbit or rodent die off in an area due to tularemia, deer flies or ticks can become infected from these animals and then pass it on to pets or people when they bite them.”