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Tularemia is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. Tularemia is usually a disease that occurs in wildlife such as rabbits and rodents, and it can be present in the environment in soil and water for weeks to months.

People can get tularemia many different ways, such as during gardening and landscaping activities. 
The disease can also be transmitted by contact with an infected animal or from an insect that fed on an infected animal. The bacteria may cause pneumonia when it is inhaled, for example from mowing over an infected carcass (such as prairie dogs, cats, dogs, squirrels, rats or rabbits). Ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes have been shown to transmit tularemia between animals and humans. Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person.



  • Symptoms of tularemia usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as 14 days. 
  • Symptoms include fever, skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, diarrhea, or pneumonia. Symptoms can also include chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, and respiratory failure. 
  • Tularemia is treatable with antibiotics such as doxycycline. 
  • See your healthcare provider if you are ill with these symptoms and have any of the exposures listed above. 

  • WEAR GLOVES and/or a dust mask during gardening and landscaping activities.
    • If the animal must be moved, wear gloves, place it in a garbage bag using a longhandled shovel, and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.
  • AVOID mowing over dead animals.
  • NEVER TOUCH sick or dead animals with your bare hands.
  • AVOID areas where wild rodents live.
  • SEE A PHYSICIAN if you become ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
  • USE INSECT REPELLENTS containing 20% to 30% DEET, picaridin or IR3535.
  • SEE A VETERINARIAN if you see any change in the behavior of your pets (especially rodents, rabbits, and hares) or livestock. 

Broomfield Public Health and Environment, Health Protection 720.887.2220