HAE

There are many diseases that can be carried by animals and insects and then transmitted to humans. Here in Larimer County, some of the most common of these include Rabies, West Nile virus, Plague and Tularemia.

Many of these diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that are carried by animals and insects. People can get these diseases from a variety of interaction between infected animals or infected soil or particles. 

More Information About Animal-Borne Diseases

Health Department Role
As annoying as bed bugs are, they are NOT a public health threat. The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment does not track or monitor bed bug infestations, nor does the health department do any sort of case management related to bed bug infestations. If you suspect you have a bed bug problem, we recommend you call a professional exterminator for a consultation.


Increasing Bed Bug Problems
In general, bed bugs have become more because of increasing travel, increased reuse and re-sale of household furnishings, and an increase in the bugs' resistance to pesticides.


Recommendations to Deal with an Infestation
Since bed bugs can be very challenging to control, we recommend calling a professional exterminator. They can work with you to properly identify the pest and suggest an appropriate and effective treatment for the problem.


Bed bugs can be very difficult to exterminate from a site once they are established. Homeowners and businesses should be aware that some pesticides are not approved for use inside of the home/business site, or on surfaces such as mattresses where people will come in direct contact with that surface. For safe, lasting, and cost-effective results, it's best not to do it yourself. Application of pesticides is best addressed by a licensed pest control professional.
 
Possible Indicators of Bed Bugs
You're most likely to see a bed bug infestation on your mattress or pillow because you are more frequently at eye-level with a bed's surface and since you may wake up with visible and itchy bites. But bed bugs are very adept at hiding and reproducing behind floorboards and trim, in upholstered chairs and sofas, and even in the frames of televisions. They will hide until emerging when hungry. Luggage is another common way for bedbugs to get into a home. Be sure to check yours closely after your travels.
 
Diseases Associated with Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are not significant transmitters of disease; however, the bites can be itchy, and scratching the bites could possibly lead to other infections.
 
Bed Bugs & Cleanliness
A bed bug infestation does not necessarily indicate a lack of cleanliness of any particular home or lodging. Bedbugs can be introduced into even the cleanest, high-end homes, lodging establishments, apartments or office buildings. Adequate hiding places for the bed bugs (furniture, crevices, cracks, etc.) and a warm blooded host for blood meals are all that are needed to start an infestation once the pest is introduced.
 
For more information on bed bugs:

What is Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is an infection caused by Brucella species bacteria.  It is an animal-borne disease that can be spread to humans. In animals the disease is also known as contagious abortion or Bang's disease. In humans, it's known as undulant fever because of the severe intermittent fevers.


How common is Brucellosis infection? 
People in certain occupations or settings may face increased exposure to the bacteria that cause Brucellosis. These can include:

  • Slaughterhouse workers
  • Meat-packing employees
  • Veterinarians
  • Laboratory workers
  • People who consume raw milk
  • People who consume wild game animals, including wild hogs, elk, bison, caribou, and moose

 

What are the symptoms of Brucellosis?
Brucellosis can cause of range of signs and symptoms, some of which may present for prolonged periods of time.  Initial symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • sweats
  • malaise
  • anorexia
  • headache
  • pain in muscles, joints, and/or back
  • fatigue

Some signs and symptoms may persist for longer periods of time. Others reoccur or may never go away. These can include:

  • recurrent fevers
  • arthritis
  • swelling of the testicle and scrotum area
  • swelling of the heart (endocarditis)
  • neurologic symptoms (in up to 5% of all cases)
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • swelling of the liver and/or spleen

The time it takes for symptoms to appear after exposure to Brucella is considered to be highly variable, with a range of five days to five months, with a few cases reporting periods as long as a year.  The average is about two to four weeks.

The most obvious signs in pregnant animals are abortion or birth of weak calves. Milk production may be reduced from changes in the normal lactation period caused by abortions and delayed conceptions. 


How is Brucellosis spread?
The bacteria are transmitted from animals to humans by ingestion through infected food products, direct contact with an infected animal, or inhalation of particles. Brucellosis is commonly spread in animals by direct contact with infected animals or with an environment that has been contaminated with body fluids from infected animals.


When to call your doctor
Consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms consistent with Brucellosis and have exposure to animals that can spread Brucellosis.


How is Brucellosis diagnosed?
Brucellosis is diagnosed initially by the patient's history of exposure to likely sources of Brucella bacteria and the patient's clinical symptoms. Brucellosis can be confirmed in a laboratory by finding bacteria in samples of blood, bone marrow or other bodily fluids. Additional tests can also be done to detect antibodies against the bacteria.


How is Brucellosis infection treated?
The infection can be treated with antibiotics for 6-8 weeks. People who are immuno-suppressed or pregnant should be treated in consultation with an infectious disease specialist.


How do I avoid Brucellosis infection?
It is possible to prevent or reduce the chances of developing Brucellosis. Simple methods such as avoiding known infected animals, never drinking unpasteurized milk. If working with potentially infected animals, wear gloves and a mask and wash hands to reduce the risk of infection.


Because Brucellosis is mainly a disease involving livestock, vaccines have been developed that are effective for cattle, sheep, and goats.  There is no vaccine available for humans to prevent Brucellosis.
 

What is hantavirus?

Hantavirus causes a respiratory disease in people and is transmitted by infected rodents. It is often fatal. It can usually be found in rural areas.  


How is hantavirus transmitted?
Hantavirus is transmitted to people through contact with infected rodents.

Contact includes:

  • Inhaling airborne droplets of an infected rodent’s saliva, urine, or feces.
  • Hantavirus can become airborne if any particles containing the virus are moved around while cleaning or by the wind
  • Eating or drinking food contaminated with an infected rodent’s saliva, urine, or feces.
  • Touching contaminated feces and then touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth, or any open wound.
  • Being bitten or scratched by an infected rodent.


What are possible signs of infestation? 
Rodents:

  • Deer mice are the most common transmitters of hantavirus
  • Other types of mice may also carry hantavirus.

Burrows and nests of mice:

  • Piles of debris such as twigs, insulation, grass, usually in or around wood piles, shrubbery, and piles of debris.

Mouse droppings

  • Look like black grains of rice, usually near the walls and in corners


If you have rodents in your home
Air Out:

  • Air out any potentially contaminated areas for an extended period of time

Clean up:

  • Wear gloves
  • Spray the area with a bleach mixture solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) and let sit for 10-15 minutes
  • Pick up solution with paper towels
  • Wash hands thoroughly after cleaning up

Symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms with trouble breathing
  • Fever of 101°-104°
  • Abdominal, joint, or back pains
  • Nausea and vomiting (sometimes)
  • Difficulty breathing

Symptoms of hantavirus occur 1 to 6 weeks after exposure. If you think you have been exposed to hantavirus, seek medical attention immediately.


Treatment
There is no specific treatment, vaccine, or cure for this virus. If symptoms are recognized early, receive medical treatment immediately.


Let your health care provider know that you have been around rodents which will allow them to check for rodent-carried diseases such as hantavirus. 
 


How is plague transmitted?

Plague is a bacteria that can be transmitted to people through flea bites and direct contact with infected animals. The bacteria can be carried by fleas, which can be found on rodents like prairie dogs, squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks. When fleas bite rodents infected with plague, they become infected and can then spread the disease to other rodents, domestic animals and humans.
In humans, the incubation period is usually 2-7 days.

 

What are plague types and symptoms? 
There are three main forms of plague:

  1. The most common form is the Bubonic plague, characterized by sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender and painful lymph nodes (called buboes). This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea. The bacteria multiply in the lymph node closest to where the bacteria entered the human body. Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease in humans (about 80% of cases) Typical symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, sudden onset of fever or chills, severe headache, extreme exhaustion, and a general feeling of illness. Bubonic plague can be successfully treated when diagnosed promptly. If you have had a possible exposure to infected rodents or fleas and are experiencing these symptoms, consult a physician as soon as possible.
  2. Septicemic plague occurs when the bacteria enter the bloodstream directly and spread throughout the body. These forms are highly fatal unless treated promptly; unfortunately there are often no localizing signs to suggest plague.
  3. Pneumonic plague can result in human-to-human transmission via spread through respiratory droplets. Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous.

Untreated bubonic plague has a fatality rate approaching 70%; septicemic and pneumonic plague are fatal without prompt treatment.

 

Tips to avoid plague: 

  • Avoid contact with all sick and dead rodents and rabbits. Look for the presence of blow flies or dead animal smell as evidence of animal die-offs. Prairie dog colonies that suddenly are not active may also be due to plague activity in the area. Report such die-offs to Larimer County Health Department at 498-6775.
  • While hiking, treat pants, socks, shoe tops, arms and legs with insect repellents. If you hunt or trap rabbits or carnivorous wild animals, wear gloves and a respiratory mask while skinning or handling these animals. Fresh pelts may be treated with flea powder.
  • Cats and dogs can carry plague and infected fleas into the house. Talk to your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention to help protect your pets from plague. 
  • DO NOT feed or entice any rodent or rabbit species into your yard, back porch, or patio.
  • Eliminate rodent habitat, such as piles of lumber, broken cement, trash and weeds around your home, outbuildings and cabins.
  • When outdoors, minimize exposure in rodent-infested areas. Do not catch, play with, or attempt to hand feed wild rodents.
  • Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.

 

Plague and pets: 

Dogs can get a mild infection and have the ability to recover without treatment.

Cats are infected from flea bites or by direct contact with infected rodents. Plague infected cats will generally have a history of roaming freely in rural or semi-rural areas and their owners often report that they are known predators.

Infected cats frequently exhibit swelling and sores around the mouth, head, and neck, and appear to be ill. Seek veterinary care for such animals. Since domestic cats and dogs can carry infected fleas into the home environment, it is also important to consult your veterinarian for information about flea control for your pets. While dogs rarely appear sick from plague, it is still important that they are treated for fleas as they can still carry them into the home.

Steps people can take to prevent plague in their pets:

  • Keep pets from roaming and hunting in areas where plague has been found.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product.
  • Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.

 

How is plague treated? 
Plague can be treated if diagnosed in the early stages of disease. If diagnosis and appropriate treatment are delayed, life-threatening complications may follow.

 

When to contact your doctor: 

A doctor or hospital emergency room should be consulted as soon as symptoms appear and a history of exposure to potentially infected animals is very important in evaluating the risk from plague.
 

What is psittacosis infection?
Psittacosis is a disease caused by infection of the respiratory tract (throat, windpipe, and lungs) with Chlamydia psittaci. C. psittaci is a type of bacteria that can infect all types of birds. Psittacosis in people is most commonly associated with pet birds, like parrots and cockatiels, and poultry, like turkeys or ducks.


How common is psittacosis infection?
Since 2010, fewer than 10 confirmed cases have been reported in the United States each year. However, experts believe the disease is potentially underreported and underdiagnosed.
People of all ages can get psittacosis, but it is more common among adults. Those who have contact with pet birds and poultry, including people who work in bird-related occupations, are at increased risk:

  • People who own or care for birds
  • Aviary and pet shop employees
  • Poultry workers
  • Veterinarians

 

What are the symptoms of psittacosis?
In general, psittacosis causes mild illness in people. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Dry cough

Psittacosis can also cause pneumonia (a lung infection) that may require treatment or care in a hospital. Rarely, psittacosis can result in death.
Most people begin developing signs and symptoms within 5 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. Less commonly, people report the start of symptoms after 14 days.


How is psittacosis spread?
The bacteria can infect people who care for and clean up after infected birds. It is important to know that all infected birds do not have symptoms or seem sick. Both sick birds and birds without symptoms shed the bacteria in their urine, feces, and respiratory secretions. The most common way someone gets infected is by breathing in the dust from these dried secretions. Less commonly, birds infect people through bites and beak-to-mouth contact. In general, people do not spread psittacosis to other people.


When to call your doctor
Psittacosis is rarely reported and the symptoms are like many other illnesses. For these reasons, clinicians may not suspect it, making it difficult to diagnose. Tell your healthcare provider if you get sick after buying or handling a bird.


How is Psittacosis diagnosed?
The most common samples collected for testing are:

  • Blood to detect specific antibodies the body makes in response to an infection
  • Sputum (phlegm) or swabs from the nose and/or throat to detect the bacteria directly


How is psittacosis infection treated?
People diagnosed with psittacosis usually take antibiotics to treat the infection. Most people improve quickly if they start antibiotics soon after they first get sick.


How do I avoid psittacosis infection?
While there is no vaccine to prevent psittacosis, there are things you can do to protect yourself and others. Buy pet birds only from a well-known pet store. If you own pet birds or poultry, follow good precautions when handling and cleaning birds and cages. 


Safe Bird and Cage Care:

  • Keep cages clean; clean cages and food and water bowls daily.
  • Position cages so that food, feathers, and feces cannot spread between them (i.e., do not stack cages, use solid-sided cases or barriers if cages are next to each other).
  • Avoid over-crowding of birds.
  • Isolate and treat infected birds.

Use water or disinfectant to wet surfaces before cleaning bird cages or surfaces contaminated with bird droppings. Avoid dry sweeping or vacuuming to minimize circulation of feathers and dust. Use gloves and a mask when handling infected birds or cleaning their cages. Also remember to thoroughly wash your hands with running water and soap after contact with birds or their droppings.

Birds

 

What is Q Fever? 
Q Fever is a disease caused by a bacteria, Coxiella burnetii.  People who have frequent direct contact with livestock are at higher risk for getting the illness.


How common is Q Fever infection?
The disease was first recognized in Australia in 1937, but cases are now reported from many parts around the world.  People with animal contact, veterinarians, meat industry workers, and sheep and dairy farmers are at higher risk of getting Q Fever.  


What are the symptoms of Q Fever?
Illness typically develops 2-3 weeks after being exposed to the bacteria. Only about one-half of all people infected with C. burnetii show signs of illness. For people who become ill, the first symptoms of Q fever resemble the flu and may include fever, chills, sweats, headache, and weakness. Q fever may rarely progress to affect the liver, nervous system, or heart valve. Q Fever is rarely fatal.


Symptoms can be mild or severe.  People who develop severe disease may experience infection of the lungs (pneumonia) or liver (hepatitis). Women who are infected during pregnancy may be at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery, or low infant birth weight.


A very small percentage of people (less than 5 out of 100) who become infected with C. burnetii bacteria develop a more serious infection called chronic Q fever. Chronic Q fever develops months or years following initial Q fever infection. People with chronic Q fever often develop an infection of one or more heart valves (called endocarditis). People with endocarditis may experience night sweats, fatigue, shortness of breath, weight loss, or swelling of their limbs. A healthcare provider will need to perform a series of tests to diagnose endocarditis.


How is Q Fever spread?
Most people get Q fever by coming in contact with animals infected with the Q fever bacteria, their tissues, or fluids. Transmission may occur through breathing contaminated air or dust from an area with a large concentration of animals. Tissues from animals giving birth pose a higher risk, since the bacteria can be shed in large numbers when an infected animal gives birth. People can also become infected indirectly from animals through contaminated materials like wool, straw, and animal waste fertilizers. Transmission by tick bites can occur, but is rare in the United States. There is a risk of Q fever from consumption of contaminated raw milk.


C. burnetii can survive for long periods of time in the environment and may be carried long distances by wind.


Although cases of Q fever can occur during any month of the year, most cases report illness beginning in the spring and early summer months, peaking in April and May. These increases coincide with increases in outdoor activity, and with the birthing season for a number of domestic animal species.


When to call your healthcare provider
Consult your healthcare provider if you have symptoms consistent with Q Fever and potential animal exposure.


How is Q Fever diagnosed?
Q fever is diagnosed by identifying the bacteria in tissues or through a blood test that detects antibody to the organism.


How is Q Fever infection treated?
Patients with mild transient illness usually do not require treatment. Patients with severe Q fever infection may be treated with two to three weeks of antibiotics. Patients with heart valve deformities should see their doctor for treatment to prevent infection of their heart valve. If treatment is delayed until late (i.e., heart) symptoms occur, patients may need to take antibiotics for months or years. If permanent damage to the heart valve occurs, surgery may be necessary.


How do I avoid Q Fever infection?

  • Livestock owners should seek veterinary assistance if their animals have reproductive or other health problems. Animal placentas, other birth products, and aborted fetuses should be disposed of immediately.
  • Reduce your risk of getting Q fever by avoiding contact with animals, especially while animals are giving birth. Animals can be infected with Coxiella burnetii and appear healthy.
  • Do not consume raw milk or raw milk products.


Is there anything special I need to know?
If you have been diagnosed with Q fever and have a history of heart valve disease, blood vessel abnormalities, a weakened immune system, or are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for developing chronic Q fever.
 


What is rabies?
Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus that can affect humans and other animals. The rabies virus affects the nervous system and causes swelling of the brain, eventually resulting in death. Once symptoms appear, the disease is nearly always fatal. Rabies is preventable if vaccines are administered early but the disease is not treatable once symptoms appear.
 
What animals commonly transmit rabies in Larimer county?
The virus is most commonly found in skunks and bats in Larimer County, but can also be found in foxes, raccoons and coyotes. Any mammal can get rabies.


How is rabies transmitted?
The virus is transmitted by the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or scratch.  Pets and livestock, especially outdoor animals, can easily come in contact with rabid animals. If your pets are unvaccinated, and they come in contact with a rabid animal, they can contract rabies and spread it to humans and animals.


What are the symptoms of rabies in animals?

  • Normally nocturnal animals such as skunks and bats active during the day
  • Animals stumbling, weak, or paralyzed
  • Unusually aggressive or tame behavior while approaching humans or pets

 

What can I do to prevent rabies?

  • Ensure that your pets, including horses and livestock, are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • Don’t keep wild animals as pets
  • Avoid feeding or touching wildlife or feral animals
  • Avoid animals showing unusual behavior
  • Prevent contact between pets and wildlife. Obey leash laws.
  • Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors especially at night, and tightly close garbage cans and feed bins.
  • Put trash in secure bins and animal proof if needed
  • Prevent wildlife from getting into your house
  • Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched.

 

What to do if you have an encounter with a sick or dead animal

  • Call the Larimer Humane Society's Animal Control at 970-226-3647, extension #7, to report a bat, skunk, or other encounters with an animal that looks sick.
  • Never touch the animal, even if it appears dead
  • Try to contain a bat in the room where it is found. Close the entrances to the room or place a box over it.
  • If the bat, skunk or other aggressive animal has bitten or scratched you, wash the affected area immediately and call your doctor as soon as possible.
  • NOTE: The Larimer Humane Society does not pick up dead animals in unincorporated Larimer County (outside of city/town limits). This includes picking up animals in public areas, such as public roads and parks, and dead animals on private property.

 

What if I wake up and find a bat in the house?

  • Trap the bat in one room and contact Larimer Humane Society Animal Control.
  • Use leather gloves and a box or coffee can and set it over the bat. Use lid to move the bat into the container. Place lid on container and hold for pick up by Animal Control. Do not touch the bat with bare hands!
  • If you are unable to locate the bat or the bat escapes, please contact Larimer County Health Department (970-498-6775) to evaluate the situation and for recommendations for rabies post exposure treatment.
  • The majority of the human cases of rabies in the United States can be associated with a history of waking up with a bat in the bedroom and releasing it without reporting the bat or receive post exposure treatment.


What happens if my pet is exposed to a potentially rabid animal?
All animal encounters should be reported to animal control or to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.  The health department can help evaluate the risk of the exposure and make recommendations for you or your pet. Unvaccinated pets that come in contact with a potentially rabid animal might be required to go through an extensive quarantine process that can be costly, or they might have to be euthanized. Vaccination is the best way to protect your pets from rabies.  


    When to call your healthcare provider
    Please consult your healthcare provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment: 

    • If you have had contact with a bat, skunk or other wild animal
    • If you have had contact with feral cats or stray animals
    • If you found a bat in an area where you were sleeping
    • If you are unsure if contact with a bat may have occurred, such as with a child or adult who may not be able to communicate if they had contact

     

    What are the symptoms of rabies in humans?
    Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.  Symptoms include tingling or twitching sensation around the animal bite, fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue.  As the infection progresses, irritability, excessive movements or agitation, seizures, inability to swallow and increased salivation can occur.


    How long does it take to get rabies?
    It generally takes 20-60 days to develop symptoms of rabies but has been known to be longer than 6 months.


    What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?

    • Make note of what animal bit you, what happened, and where the animal went.
    • If the animal bit you in an enclosed area, try and contain the animal. Do not release the animal. If it is caught, it can be tested for rabies. A negative test can mean less health care costs for you after an exposure.
    • Immediately wash the wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Washing the wound thoroughly helps reduce the likelihood of rabies and other bacterial infection.
    • Contact your physician or go to your local emergency room. Bite wounds can be a very serious injury regardless of rabies risk.
    • Report the bite incident to Larimer Humane Society Animal Control at 970-226-3647 ext 7 and to your local health department.

     

      What is the post exposure treatment for humans? 
      If you are bitten or otherwise exposed to a rabid animal you can be vaccinated against rabies. This vaccine is called rabies post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Call your doctor without delay and report the incident to your the health department.

      • Treatment should start soon after exposure. Talk to your provider or call the Health Department if you have questions.  
      • Treatment for rabies usually takes 4 visits, unless the person has been vaccinated previously for rabies.


      Why does public health investigate potential contact with rabid animals?
      Public health can coordinate testing of animals for rabies and help determine if preventive treatment is needed for humans and pets. Public health can also discuss possible exposures and determine risk when an animal is not available for testing. The purpose of these measures is to protect humans and animals from getting rabies.

       

      Protect your pet from rabies: 

      Vaccinating pets and livestock for rabies helps to protect you and your family from the virus. Dogs and cats over the age of 4 months are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies in Larimer County.

      • Vaccinate indoor pets
        • Bats can enter houses and even strictly indoor animals sometimes escape. Each year there are pet owners that must make the difficult decision to either euthanize their pet or face an expensive 6 month quarantine because a rabies positive bat came in contact with their indoor pet.
      • Indoor & Outdoor Cats
        • Cats have a natural instinct to hunt, whether they are indoor or outdoor. Sometimes a cat will catch and eat the bat, other times, they may bring the animal they caught into the house or even into a bedroom and share it with their owner.
        • Barn cats have a high risk of rabies exposure since they share their environment with bats and other wildlife. Children many times play with barn cats and the cats have close contact with many other animals on the property.
      • Preventing pet and wildlife conflicts
        • Keep dogs leashed when hiking and walking in your neighborhood. Loose dogs may tangle with a rabid skunk, pick up a bat from the ground, or run into other wildlife without the owner being aware it has happened. Feed your pets indoors. Do not leave pet food outside. Ensure pet doors are locked at night when wildlife is most active. Wildlife frequently visit backyards in search of food and water sources. At night, turn on a light and make some noise prior to letting the dog into the yard to give any wildlife a chance to escape first. Tightly close garbage cans and feed bins. If your pet comes into contact with a wild animal, follow up with your veterinarian.

      Tularemia Info for Providers


      What is Tularemia?  
      Tularemia is a bacterial infection most commonly transmitted to humans that have handled infected animals.


      How is tularemia transmitted? 
       Infection can arise from handling infected animals, as well as from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies), by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil, by eating, drinking, or direct contact with breaks in the skin, and by breathing in dust stirred up during mowing or moving hay, grass, grain, or soil contaminated by an infected animal.


      What are the symptoms of tularemia? 
      Typical signs of infection in humans are fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. 


      Symptoms typically appear between 3 to 5 days of exposure, but can range from 2 - 13 days.


      How is tularemia treated? 
      Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics, so if you should have any of these early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible.


      Current Risk: 
      Larimer County residents are advised that tularemia-causing bacteria are present in much of Larimer County.
      The last reported case was a rabbit in 2019. Larimer County has reported 18 human tularemia cases and 35 animals positive since 2009.

       

      Handling (removing) dead animals:
      NOTE: Tularemia is present in Larimer County. If you had multiple animal die-offs in your area please use caution when handling dead animals.


      If you need to remove a dead animal:

      • Apply an insect repellent to yourself against fleas and ticks prior to proceeding with the removal.
      • Use a shovel and place the body in a plastic bag.
      • Dispose of it in an outdoor trash receptacle.
      • Wash your hands immediately.

       

      Steps people can take to prevent human tularemia:

      • Never feed wildlife.
      • Avoid handling any sick or dead animals.
      • Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees.
      • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes. Repellents that contain DEET or IR3535 are good choices for humans.
      • Wear shoes in areas where rabbits have died. The bacteria can persist in the environment for a month or two, so these precautions should be taken for several weeks.
      • Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation in areas where rabbit die-offs have occurred
      • If you hunt rabbits, take appropriate precautions when processing them. Precautions include:
        • When handling rabbits, always wear gloves.
        • Wash your hands after touching any animal, especially before you eat.
        • Cook rabbit meat thoroughly (170 degrees).
        • Wear insect repellents that contain DEET.
        • Only drink water from a safe source.

       

      Tularemia and pets: 

      Dogs and cats also get tularemia by eating infected rabbits or other animals, by drinking contaminated surface water, through tick and deer fly bites, and though exposure to contaminated soil if the skin is broken.

      If your pet shows symptoms of illness which may include fever, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes, ulcers on the mouth and tongue, draining abscesses, nasal and eye discharge, and skin sores, take it to the veterinarian.

      As in humans, tularemia is easily treated if diagnosed early in dogs and cats.

      Steps people can take to prevent tularemia in their pets:

      • Routinely apply flea and tick repellent to any pets that go outdoors. Talk to your veterinarian about which choice is best for your pet and follow label directions carefully.
      • Keep your pets leashed when walking them outdoors and keep them away from dead animals.
      • Keep pets from wandering in areas where sick or dead animals have been found.
      • Don't let dogs or cats drink from surface waters (puddles, streams, and ponds) when outdoors.
      • Do not feed them raw meat.

      There are disease concerns with both rats, mice and other rodents. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites.


      These diseases can be spread to humans directly through handling of rodents, rodent bites, or through contact with rodent feces, urine or saliva.  The best way to preventing human exposure to rodent diseases is effective rodent control in and around the home.


      Getting Rodents Under Control
      Getting a rodent problem under control can be very frustrating. The keys to rodent control are sealing, trapping and cleaning.


      CDC provides some guidance on how to get rodent problems under control: