Rabbit in Whitewater infected by tularemia
Residents warned, told to protect their pets
Mesa County health officials are reminding residents to protect their pets and not handle wildlife after a dead rabbit found in Whitewater tested positive for tularemia.
A couple found the carcass on their property last week and reported it to the Mesa County Health Department. The rabbit was turned over to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which confirmed the disease this week, county health spokeswoman Katie Goddeyne said.
The infectious disease is found in rabbits, prairie dogs and other rodents annually, particularly in Whitewater and the neighborhoods just east and just west of Colorado National Monument.
The couple who found the rabbit called local health officials after learning about tularemia last year. They told officials they see rabbits and prairie dogs on their property regularly this time of year, but this was the first time they’d ever found a carcass.
Health officials say residents who live in those areas and find a dead rabbit should remove the carcass safely from their property and don’t necessarily need to turn it over to health officials, since testing in those areas is no longer necessary.
However, should residents find multiple dead animals on or around their property, no matter where they live, they should call the Health Department right away, as that could indicate unusual disease activity.
Tularemia is treatable. Residents should contact their health care provider if they notice symptoms including an infected, ulcer-like bite, swollen glands, fever, dry cough, body aches and headaches.