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Causes of Tularemia Disease

Discover the varied causes of Tularemia, including insect bites, contact with infected animals, and food transmission. Understand the risks and preventive measures for this infectious disease.

  • 18 Jan 2024
  • 3 min read

Tularemia Disease, or rabbit fever, is caused by a highly infectious gram negative bacterium that commonly affects rabbits and other rodents. It can sometimes get transmitted to humans and varies greatly in symptoms.  

What are the Causes of Tularemia Disease?

Tularemia is caused by bacteria that can survive in a variety of substrates like soil, water, air, and on dead animals.  It doesn’t occur naturally to humans but is transmitted from rabbits and other infected animals to humans through several means. 

The following are known risk factors and causes for tularaemia disease:

  • Insect bite – It is one of the major causes of tularemia disease where the infecting bacteria are transmitted through insects (deer fly, tick, etc.) to humans, which explains why nearly all cases occur in rural areas.
  • Contact transmission – It occurs in people living in close contact with animals. Handling infected animals or their meat is a common source of tularemia disease.
  • Food & Water transmission – Tularemia caused by ingestion of food or water can  occur if someone eats undercooked or raw meat from infected animal or shares the drinking water source with infected animal.
  •  Air transmission – Cases also resulted from inhaling airborne bacteria and from laboratory accidents. It is particularly true for people working with animals or working in gardens. Even people doing construction activities can also ingest infecting bacteria through soil. 


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The severity of tularemia infection depends upon the route of infection. Since Tularemia is caused by coming in contact with the infected animal, it is advised to be cautious in the wild. However, just because you’re exposed to the bacteria doesn’t mean you’ll become sick either.


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