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tularemia (to͞olərēˈmēə) or rabbit fever, acute, infectious disease caused by Francisella tularensis (Pasteurella tularensis). The greatest incidence is among people who handle infected wild rabbits. Tularemia may also be transmitted by other infected animals, ticks, or contaminated food or water. Within 10 days of contact the disease begins suddenly with high fever and severe constitutional symptoms. An ulcerating lesion (or several lesions) develops at the site of infection, such as the arm, eye, or mouth. The regional lymph nodes enlarge, suppurate, and drain. The infection may be complicated by pneumonia, meningitis, or peritonitis, and the mortality rate is about 6%. Treatment is with antibiotics. Continuous wet saline dressings can be beneficial for primary skin lesion.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an acute infectious disease of animals and man caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, named after Tulare County, Calif., where the disease was first isolated by G. McCoy and C. Chapin in 1911 in infected ground squirrels.

Tularemia is found in the USA, the USSR, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Norway, France, and other countries of the northern hemisphere. Man becomes infected by handling rodents or hares that are infected with the disease or that have died of it. Infection may also occur through contact with water, straw, or food products contaminated by such animals. The disease is transmitted by insect and tick bites as well. Tularemia is naturally endemic. The causative agent enters the body by means of the skin, the mucous membranes of the eye, or the alimentary or respiratory tract. The incubation period ranges from three to seven days.

The symptoms of tularemia are fever, severe headache, insomnia, night sweats, and swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes, which may break down and suppurate. Several types of tularemia are distinguished, according to the site of the initial infection: ulceroglandular, oculoglandular, gastrointestinal, and pneumonic. The disease generally persists for two to three weeks; the mortality rate is less than 1 percent.

Tularemia is diagnosed by means of a skin test and the highly specific agglutination reaction. The disease is treated with such antibiotics as streptomycin and the tetracyclines. Recovery is followed by reliable immunity. The disease cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Preventive measures include the use of viable tularemia vaccine, which assures immunity for approximately five years, extermination of rodents and ticks, protection of water sources against contamination, prophylactic measures in agricultural practices, and personal hygiene.


Tuliaremiia. Moscow, 1960.
Olsufev, N. G., and T. N. Dunaeva. Prirodnaia ochagovost’, epidemiologiia i profilaktika tularemii. Moscow, 1970.
Fur-bearing animals and all species of farm animals, particularly sheep, may be affected by tularemia; young animals are particularly susceptible. The disease is transmitted from infected rodents by means of feed and water or airborne droplets, or from the bites of bloodsucking arthropods. Tularemia is often latent. It may be manifested, particularly in spring and summer, by fever, diarrhea, exhaustion, enlargement of the lymph nodes, nervous disturbances, and miscarriages. The course is benign in most animals, but the disease lowers the productivity of fur-bearing animals and sheep and may be fatal to the young of these animals.
Tularemia in animals is treated with antibiotics. Preventive measures include rodent control and protection against blood sucking arthropods. Infected animals should be isolated, and those severely affected should be slaughtered. The area of infection should be disinfected and scrubbed, and the carcasses decontaminated.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(veterinary medicine)
A bacterial infection of wild rodents caused by Pasteurella tularensis; it may be generalized, or it may be localized in the eyes, skin, or lymph nodes, or in the respiratory tract or gastrointestinal tract; may be transmitted to humans and to some domesticated animals.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.