Tularemia or rabbit fever is once more on the rise in the U.S., with four states – Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska – registering a high number of cases this year.
Commonly known as rabbit fever, tularemia was thought almost eradicated in the U.S. However, the newest report of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests this is not the case.
While a median 125 cases of tularemia were reported annually throughout the past 20 years across the U.S., since September 2015 until now, the four states mentioned above already registered 100 cases of rabbit fever infection. 43 Colorado residents were infected with tularemia in addition to 21 Nebraska residents, 20 South Dakota residents and 16 Wyoming residents.
According to the CDC report, this is an alarming increase in rabbit fever cases, with the percentage points as follows: 975 percent, 200 percent, 186 percent and 70 percent, in the order of the states mentioned above and measured for the 2004-2014 period. The high medians indicate that tularemia or rabbit fever is once more on the rise in the U.S.
Tularemia is triggered by the Francisella tularensis coccobacillus. It remains unclear what caused the spike in rabbit fever cases this year alone. However, Caitlin Pedati with the Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, CDC supports the hypothesis according to which the Francisella tularensis coccobacillus development has been propped by increased rainfall, increased rodent population and pathogen survival.
According to MD Pedati and her colleagues it is possible that more cases have been diagnosed as raising awareness efforts have been ramped up. Nonetheless, it is necessary that health officials in the four states and not only are on the lookout and instruct health care providers to offer treatment to all those at high risk.
In addition, health care providers should be thoroughly instructed as to the symptoms of rabbit fever. Residents of the four states and visitors here avoid areas where infected or dead animals have been found. Moreover, using insect repellent as well as wearing gloves if one is handling animals should keep rabbit fever at bay.
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