Tularemia is a type of infectious disease that affects the eyes, skin, lungs, and lymph nodes of the patient. Also known as deer fly fever or rabbit fever, this disease is caused by the francisella tularensis bacterium. Tularemia is usually seen in rabbits, rodents, and hares but it can also affect birds, sheep, cats, dogs, and hamsters. In most of the cases, the infection spreads to human beings through direct contact with an infected animal. However, the bacterium can also infect a person via insect bites.

Tularemia is highly contagious and can be potentially fatal in some serious cases as well. However, doctors at low-income health clinics say that the disease can be treated effectively by using specific antibiotics if it is diagnosed in its early stages. Below is a quick look at the initial symptoms of the condition which help medical experts at community health care centers and low-income clinics to diagnose tularemia.

Common Symptoms of Tularemia

Most patients who have been exposed to the francisella tularensis bacterium will become sick within 3 to 5 days. However, in some cases, it might take up to two weeks to develop the first signs of the infection. Although there are many types of tularemia the most common one that affects people in the US is ulceroglandular tularemia. This version of tularemia can make a patient experience skin-related problems such as a skin ulcer that develops at the site of the bacterial infection. Apart from that, the typical symptoms of the condition are fever, chills, swollen and/or painful lymph glands, headache, exhaustion, and fatigue.

In the case of glandular tularemia, which is a rare form of the condition, the patient would experience all the symptoms of ulceroglandular tularemia but without any skin-related problems. The other forms of tularemia might have different symptoms depending upon the type of infection. For instance, in oculoglandular tularemia, the patient would experience eye-related problems such as pain and redness in the eyes, eye swelling, sensitivity to light, and an ulcer on the eyelid. In the case of oropharyngeal tularemia, the patient would develop symptoms like throat pain, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen tonsils, inflamed lymph nodes, and other problems related to the throat, mouth, and digestive tract.

Note that those with pneumonic tularemia would have the symptoms that are experienced by pneumonia patients such as chest pain, dry cough, and difficulty in breathing. Those with typhoidal tularemia would develop the signs that are seen in typhoid patients, such as high fever, extreme tiredness, enlarged spleen and liver, and diarrhea. This makes it very important to consult a doctor at the nearest low-income health clinic as soon as you notice any signs or symptoms so that tularemia can be diagnosed and treated in time.

Book an Appointment

    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.

    To Book an Appointment

    We are standing by to assist you.

    Please call 310-706-2594