A case of the disease tularemia was confirmed in Larimer County Friday morning. According to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, the patient may have been exposed to the disease while mowing or gardening.
The patient had reportedly developed a lung infection and was seeking treatment when diagnosed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans can be infected in a number of ways, including, but not limited to, “tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals, ingestion of contaminated water, inhalation of contaminated aerosols or agricultural dusts or laboratory exposure.”
Infected animals, especially rodents like rats, hares and rabbits, often die off in large numbers during outbreaks of the disease.
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment warned people to be careful while mowing, blowing up leaves, or turning soil, as the activities could aerosolize bacteria and cause pneumonic tularemia.
Signs of tularemia include skin ulcers, swelling of lymph glands, irritation or swelling in an eye, a sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, coughing, chest pain and difficulty breathing. Symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of the disease.
To prevent infection, use insect repellent, wear gloves while gardening and avoid mowing over dead animals. If you find a dead or sick animal on your property, call the Fort Collins Humane Society at 970-226-3647 ext. 7 for safe removal. If bitten by an animal, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Collegian Reporter Sarah Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HowSarahTweets.