The symptoms of tularemia usually develop 3 – 5 days after exposure to the bacterium. The signs and symptoms of the disease include the following :
These are some of the common signs and symptoms experienced. However, symptoms may be different for different forms of tularemia. For example, in case of pneumonic tularemia, individuals suffer from cough, difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. In case of typhoidal tularemia, in addition to above mentioned symptoms, individuals also experience pneumonia, enlarged spleen and liver, extreme exhaustion and vomiting along with diarrhea.
It often gets difficult to diagnose tularemia, the reason being that the disease shares some common signs and symptoms with other diseases. The following tests are carried out to diagnose the disease condition :
When treatment is not given, then the disease turns fatal in about 5% cases. However, when promptly treated, the condition can successfully resolve. The mortality rate is higher in individuals suffering from typhoidal tularemia. In addition to delay in diagnosis and typhoidal tularemia, there are several other factors that increase the chances of mortality in individuals. These include renal failure and elevated levels of creatine kinase .
Humans are not directly infected by the bacteria that cause tularemia. But, it spreads to humans by the mammals infected by Francisella tularensis. The following are the ways through which humans get infected through the bacterium :
Tularemia is a common occurrence in the western and southern regions of the US. It has been estimated that annually, 200 cases of tularemia are reported to occur in the US. In the past, the condition occurred more frequently during the winter months. However, the incidence pattern has changed and frequency of tularemia has increased during warm weather. Statistics have revealed that, during the years 1990 – 2000, about 56% cases were reported in areas of Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota and Missouri .
For the bacteria to cause an infection, it must first gain entry into the human body. This primarily occurs through insect bites or through inhalation. Once it enters the body, there is development of an ulcer at the site of wound or bite. It takes about 2 to 4 days for the ulcer to develop. In cases, when the bacteria enter the body through inhalation, it spreads through the lymph nodes causing infection. The infection that occurs, produces an inflammatory response that particularly involves the neutrophils, local macrophages and fibrin .
The following measures can be taken to prevent attack of tularemia:
Tularemia is also known as deer fly fever. It primarily affects the mammals such as hares, rodents and rabbits. In certain cases, it can also affect the reptiles, fishes and birds. Humans are affected through insect bites or when they are directly exposed to infected animals. It is a highly infectious disease, though rare, but extremely fatal. If diagnosed in the early stages, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics .