Person in Burnsville contracts tularemia after cat bite

It’s a rare disease in Minnesota, with only three reported human cases in 2016, but Minnesota Department of Health warns cases of tularemia could be on the rise.

“It’s still uncommon, but over the last several years we are starting to see more and more cases,” said Kirk Smith with the Minnesota Department of Health.

Last week, health officials reported the first tularemia case of 2017 in Burnsville after an infected cat passed the bacteria to a person. The disease can be transmitted by infected animals, wood ticks, deer flies and contaminated water or soil.

Cats are a common transmitter to humans, typically contracting the disease from a squirrel or rabbit. Squirrels and rabbits usually getting the disease from infected wood ticks, which is where the bacteria often originates.

“As the years go on here it’s become more common in animals and the environment and consequently in humans as well,” said Smith.

Symptoms of tularemia can include ulcers or sores at the sight of the infection, swollen lymph nodes, high fever and body aches. Tularemia is fatal in up to five percent of cases, but treatment with antibiotics normally results in a full recovery.

For more information about tularemia, click here.