Three cases of a rare wildlife disease to which humans are also susceptible have been found in animals in the Twin Cities, a University of Minnesota report recently found.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease most commonly found in rabbits, squirrels and other rodents that can be transmitted to people via tick and fly bites or by contact with infected animals. Two outdoor cats, the most commonly infected species in Minnesota, and one cottontail rabbit, have contracted the disease since April, the U found.
Each year in Minnesota, up to three cases of tularemia are found in humans and up to five cases in animals, the U report said.
The disease is treatable with antibiotics. Human symptoms include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and skin or mouth ulcers. Symptoms in cats include high fiver, mouth ulcers, depression and loss of appetite. Infected dogs rarely display signs, but can show a skin abscess at the site of infection, loss of appetite and fever.
The U recommends that people who have symptoms and have had contact with wild animals like rabbits consult a doctor and contact the Minnesota Department of Health. Cat owners should keep their cats indoors, and pet owners concerned about animals with symptoms should contact their veterinarians.