Tularemia is a rare infectious disease that is also referred to as the "rabbit fever". This dangerous disease is to humans transmittable from the animals and therefore it belongs among the so-called anthropozoonoses.
The infection is caused by a bacterium known as Francisella tularensis. The disease occurs in rodents, hares and rabbits. Typical transmission from the animal to human occurs via small insects (flies, mosquitoes, fleas).
The symptoms occur within 14 days after the infection. Sometimes, they may be vague – elevated body temperature, fatigue and loss of appetite. Other forms include enlargement of lymph nodes. The enlargement is usually painful and the lymph nodes may leak pus. The most serious course of the disease cause sepsis and septic shock that is often fatal. Less common forms include eye affection, upper respiratory tract infections and pneumonia.
Tularemia was considered an ideal bacteriological weapon because of its easy production in aerosolized form and its high infectivity.
At the onset of symptoms, the bacterium may be cultivated from the patient’s sputum or from an enlarged lymph node. The diagnosis however needs special microbiological laboratory using special culture media. Other possibility is positive serological test with confirmation of presence of specific antibacterial antibodies in the patient’s blood.
The infection is sensitive to certain antibiotics that are the drugs of first choice. Severe cases of tularemia must be admitted to ICU and the therapy must include monitoring and maintenance of the vital functions.