How common is tularemia in rabbits?

Last Updated on June 15, 2023 by Admin

Many bunny owners might be wondering how common is tularemia in rabbits. Although rare, this bacterial disease also known as rabbit fever/deer fly fever can infect rabbits, hares, rodents, and even humans. Some of the symptoms include lethargy, regional lymphadenopathy, and fever of abscesses. If tularemia in rabbits is left untreated after one to two weeks, it can be fatal. This article looks into everything related to tularemia in rabbits and most importantly, the preventative measures to take.

Is tularemia rare in rabbits?

Yes, Tularemia in rabbits is rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a case study was conducted in the United States between 1990 to 2000. A summary of the study concluded that there was a low level of natural transmission.


How do you know if a rabbit has tularemia?

Some of the symptoms of a rabbit with tularemia include abscesses, fever, ulcers, weakness, and regional lymphadenopathy. Tularemia’s main cause is due to a bacterium known as Francisella Tularensis. This infectious disease essentially affects a rabbit’s eyes, skin, lungs, and lymph nodes.


Do domestic rabbits carry tularemia?

Domestic bunnies do not carry tularemia, hence the likelihood of your pet infecting you with this bacterial disease is slim to none. In other words, pet rabbits pose no risk of tularemia infections to us and other domestic pets.


Do baby rabbits have tularemia?

Just like their parents, chances of domestic kittens contracting tularemia are rare. However, those caught in the wild have a high chance of being carriers of the disease. In other words, abandoned wild baby rabbits pose a huge risk when it comes to the spread and infection of tularemia.


What are the chances of getting tularemia?

According to recent statistics, this particular disease is rare in the United States with approximately around 100 to 200 new cases reported yearly. In addition, the affected demographic is mostly males in their prime. The numbers surge during the wild hunting season and also in summer when there are plenty of deer flies and ticks.


What is the mortality rate of tularemia?

The death rate for pet rabbits with tularemia infections is generally low. To be specific less than five cases have been reported annually in the U.S. in the last couple of years. However, the same cannot be said for wild rabbits since the numbers often rise to hundreds in the event of an outbreak in the wild. According to statistics, the mortality rate of tularemia for humans in the U.S. alone is less than two percent. In simpler terms, if left untreated the human mortality rate is between 30 to 60%.


Can you get sick from touching a wild rabbit?

Yes, a tularemia infection is possible especially if you, your close ones, or other pets get into contact with an infected wild rabbit, whether dead or alive. It’s also worth pointing out that this bacterial disease is highly contagious and quite common in humans compared to domestic rabbits or other domestic pets. The symptoms for this particular disease start to show at around 1 – 2 weeks after contact with an infected wild rabbit. The common signs and symptoms include inflamed eyes, fever, pneumonia, mouth soreness, diarrhea, skin ulcers, sore throat, and painful and swollen lymph glands.


Can you eat meat from an animal with tularemia?

Humans should never consume meat from animals that display any of the symptoms associated with tularemia. However, exposure to this disease is mainly higher when you’re gutting a hare or wild game. As a precaution when cooking wild meat, always ensure that you thoroughly boil it at a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


How do you prevent tularemia?

Since there’s currently no general public vaccine against tularemia, taking preventative measures both for you and your pets is critical. For starters, always wear gloves when handling animal carcasses, precisely those of rabbits or rodents. In addition, ensure that any game meat is properly boiled. Apply insect repellent containing permethrin on your skin and also use pet-friendly insecticides around the house. For outdoor bunnies, do place mosquito nets around their hutches. Lastly, avoid adopting wild rabbits or their kittens at all costs.


Is there a cure for tularemia?

Yes, there’s a cure for tularemia both for domestic and wild rabbits. The recommended antibiotics for this bacterial disease are tetracycline and Streptomycin. When it comes to tularemia in humans, the recommended drug of choice is streptomycin, gentamicin, doxycycline, chloramphenicol, and Fluoroquinolones. Depending on the stage or level of your infection, treatment normally takes around 10 to 21 days. In other words, the complete recovery rate is pretty high after medication.


Is tularemia contagious?

Tularemia can only be transmitted from infected wild rabbits/wild animals to people, pet rabbits, and other domestic animals. On the other hand, infected people cannot transmit the disease to the uninfected, as is the case with lagomorphs. Therefore, those infected shouldn’t isolate themselves. Nevertheless, tularemia is potentially infectious especially if pet rabbits or humans for that matter come into contact with a surface having residues of the Francisella Tularensis bacteria.


 How long can tularemia live on surfaces?

The bacteria that causes tularemia commonly referred to as  Francisella Tularensis, is capable of living in water, mud, or dead animals for 3 or 4 months. Click on this link for more on rabbit diseases you should know about.




Hopefully, we’ve answered the question of how common is tularemia in rabbits. It’s worth pointing out that whenever your rabbits have tularemia signs or symptoms, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Most importantly, always seek medical attention if you also show any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above.


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