"Rabbit fever" confirmed in dead muskrats in Brown County - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

"Rabbit fever" confirmed in dead muskrats in Brown County

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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Two dead muskrats found in the Ken Euers Nature Area tested positive for a bacterial disease known as tularemia, according to the Brown County Health and Human Services Department.

Tularemia is also known as rabbit fever. The bacteria can be transmitted between animals and people. It's typically spread through the bite of infected ticks and biting flies.

The health department says rabbits, beaver and muskrats are most susceptible to tularemia. Dogs and cats can also get the disease.

The health department is urging people to protect themselves and their pets from ticks and biting flies.

Advice includes:

- Using EPA-approved insect repellents
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors
- Keep pets indoors
- Keep pets up to date on flea and tick medications
- Avoid handling sick or wild animals

Symptoms of tularemia develop in people within 3 to 5 days of infection.

"There are several forms of tuleremia that range from mild, flu-like illness to severe pneumonia or sepsis. Early symptoms include fever, chills, headaches, body aches, chest or abdominal pain or swollen lymph nodes," Brown County Public Health Officer Anna Destree said.

You're advised to seek medical attention if you have any of these symptoms within two weeks of visiting the Ken Euers Nature Area, having contact with a sick or dead animal, or being bitten by a fly or tick.

Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics.

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