Tularemia is caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis. Tularemia is usually a disease that occurs in wildlife such as rabbits and rodents, and it can be present in the environment in soil and water for weeks.

People can get tularemia many different ways, such as during gardening and landscaping activities. The disease can also be transmitted by contact with an infected animal or from an insect that fed on an infected animal. The bacteria may cause pneumonia when it is inhaled, for example from mowing over an infected carcass (such as prairie dogs, cats, dogs, squirrels, rats or rabbits). Ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes have been shown to transmit tularemia between animals and humans. Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person.


  • Symptoms of tularemia usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as 14 days.
  • Symptoms may include abrupt onset of fever, skin ulcers, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, diarrhea, pneumonia, chills, headache, muscle aches, cough, or difficulty breathing.
  • Tularemia is treatable with common antibiotics.
  • See your health care provider if you are ill with these symptoms.


  • Wear shoes and gloves when gardening or working outside. Always wash hands after outdoor activities.
  • Avoid mowing over animal carcasses, and consider using a dust mask when mowing or doing landscape work if you have seen rabbits or rodents in your yard.
  • Never touch sick or dead animals with your bare hands. If the animal must be moved, place it in a garbage bag using a long-handled shovel, and place the bag in an outdoor garbage can.
  • Avoid all contact with wild animals such as squirrels and rabbits; do not feed or handle them. Prevent your pets from eating wildlife.
  • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes. Please visit EPA's web page for more information.
  • See a health care provider if you become ill with a high fever and/or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Contact a veterinarian if your pet becomes ill.
For more information about tularemia, visit www.cdc.gov/tularemia.

Broomfield Public Health and Environment, Health Protection  720.887.2220