Tularemia is an infectious disease that is caused by a francisella tularensis bacterial infection. A person may become infected in a variety of ways including insect bites or contact with an infected animal. This condition can cause a wide range of complications and, in some serious cases, can also be fatal. That is why it is recommended to see a doctor at the nearest low-income medical clinic if you were bitten by an insect and developed any kind of skin ulcer at the site. Likewise, if you live in a region where tularemia is found and ever experience fever or swollen glands after handling a wild animal it is imperative that you consult a doctor for proper medical attention as soon as possible.

Causes of Tularemia

Although the condition is rare in humans the francisella tularensis bacterium can live in dead animals, soil, and water for many weeks and can infect humans through several modes of transmission. Generally, the infection happens through insect bites and exposure to dead or sick animals. It is seen that deer flies and ticks are the common carriers of the disease but being bitten by an infected hare or rabbit can also lead to ulceroglandular tularemia. Oculoglandular tularemia is usually caused when the person rubs his/her eyes after handling an infected animal.

The francisella tularensis bacteria in the soil can also become airborne during landscaping, gardening, or construction. Inhaling the airborne bacteria can cause pneumonic tularemia or typhoidal tularemia. Sometimes, contaminated food and/or water can also transmit the disease to humans. For instance, it has been recorded that eating half-cooked meat of an infected animal can cause oropharyngeal tularemia.

Complications of Tularemia

If left untreated for long, tularemia can cause many serious complications and can sometimes lead to death. Generally, it gradually affects the lungs and causes pneumonia and respiratory problems. Tularemia can also lead to meningitis, an infection of the membranes and fluid around the spinal cord and the brain which can, in turn, cause many other life-threatening health issues.

Reports say that in some cases tularemia patients also experience irritation around the vascular system and the heart. This can cause swelling and inflammation of a thin membrane around the heart called the pericardium. This can be a very critical illness and the patient might require antibiotic therapy to manage its symptoms and effects. Healthcare experts say that tularemia infection can also lead to bone infection or osteomyelitis if the disease is not treated in time. That is why it is very important to consult a doctor at a low-income medical clinic as soon as any symptoms of the condition are noticed.

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    About the Author

    Dr. Ghassan M. Al-Jazayrly, MD

    A graduate of University of Aleppo Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Al-Jazayrly or, as he is colloquially known: Dr. AJ, is an oncologist and hematologist of a Complete Care Community Health Center (CCCHC) with more than 36 years of experience. In recent years, he’s been involved with a non profit organization known as Every Woman Counts (EWC) which provides free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to California’s underserved populations in order to eliminate health disparities for low-income individuals.

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