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Sweetwater County Public Health Notice - Tularemia

June 27, 2019


Sweetwater County Health Officer, Dr. Jean Stachon, would like to remind outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of tularemia while enjoying the out of doors this summer.  Sweetwater County has had a confirmed report of positive Tularemia in a gopher within the Rock Springs city limits.

Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals (especially rodents, gophers, rabbits, and hares).

Symptoms of tularemia may include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Dry cough
  • Progressive weakness

People can also develop pneumonia with chest pain, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Other symptoms of tularemia depend on how a person was exposed to the tularemia bacteria. These symptoms can include ulcers on the skin or mouth, swollen and painful lymph glands, swollen and painful eyes, and a sore throat.

People can get tularemia many different ways:

  • Being bitten by an infected animal, tick, deerfly or other insect
  • Handling infected animal carcasses
  • Eating or drinking contaminated food or water
  • Breathing in the bacteria, F. tularensis

Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person. People who have tularemia do not need to be isolated. People who have been exposed to the tularemia bacteria should be treated as soon as possible.

Symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as 14 days.

Consult your doctor at the first sign of illness. Be sure to let the doctor know if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system

Tularemia is a bacterial infection and will need to be treated with an appropriate antibiotics by a medical provider.

A vaccine for tularemia is under review by the Food and Drug Administration and is not currently available in the United States.

Tularemia occurs naturally in many parts of the United States. Use insect repellent containing DEET on your skin, or treat clothing with repellent containing permethrin, to prevent insect bites. Use care and wear gloves when handling sick or dead animals. Be sure to cook your food thoroughly and that your water is from a safe source. Note any change in the behavior of your pets (especially rodents, rabbits, and hares) or livestock, and consult a veterinarian if they develop unusual symptoms.


Sweetwater County Public Health 307-922-5390

Dr. Jean Stachon, County Health Officer


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