Tularemia diagnosed with two people in the Netherlands, disease on the rise again | Dogzine

Tularemia diagnosed with two people in the Netherlands, disease on the rise again

Haas (foto pixabay)

In the first half of 2016 a patient from the province of Utrecht (NL) was infected the zoonotic disease tularemia (hare plague). This was reported on the Hunting Association's website. Also in the province of South Holland, around Vijfheerenlanden, someone got tularemia. Tularemia is a very rare disease in humans, which was in the Netherlands eradicated by humans since the Second World War until 2013, with only two infections in that period. Unfortunately,  the number of cases is again slightly increasing, even with hares. The first patient has contracted the disease because his dog found an infected, dead, hare. The transfer of tularemia can occur through insect bites, contact with infected animals (mainly rodents and lagomorphs),  through contaminated water or food, or inhaling small (liquid) particles. As far as known, the disease is not of human-to-human transferable.

Tularemia, Hare plague, also known as the rabbit fever, is a bacterial zoonotic disease that is caused by the bacteria, Francisella tularensis, and is present in the northern hemisphere. It is a contagious disease that is rare in humans. The causative agent of the disease is the bacterium Francisella tularensis which was first described in 1912 and named after the Tulare County in California. The bacterium has four subspecies of which  Holarctica is the one found in Europe. Insects such as ticks, mosquitoes and horse flies can transmit the bacteria to humans. An important vector is the sheep tick. The bacterium is considered one of the most dangerous species. There are only a few bacteria needed to infect humans. 

Usually people get sores on the skin, but lesions, but swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea or pneumonia may also occur. Tularemia can be treated with antibiotics. In our neighboring countries, this disease is more common. The incubation period between contact time with the virus and disease symptoms, is 3 to 5 days. Not everyone gets sick after being infected. Whether someone becomes ill depends on:

  • the type of bacteria
  • the amount of bacteria that have come into the body
  • the resistance of someone
  • the mode of infection

The disease can manifest itself in various ways. The most common form manifests itself in sores on the skin after contact with infected carcasses of animals or a bite from an infected insect. Other manifestations are conjunctivitis, swollen lymph nodes, abdominal discomfort / diarrhea, or, worse, pneumonia. Usually the disease starts with fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. Within 24 to 48 hours, an inflamed blister appears at the site of infection, usually a finger, arm, eye, or the palate. Because the disease is rare and the symptoms can be confused with other conditions, it is difficult to diagnose.

Many people come into contact with wild animals such as hunters, butchers, poultry, farmers, fur traders and laboratory workers are at greater risk of contracting this disease. People whose immune system is lower run the risk of becoming more seriously ill from this bacteria. People with a lot of (hunting) dogs often walking in rural areas,are also at increased risk. Precautions are therefore recommended for people who often go to the fields with their dogs. Insects Protective clothing is important and while touching dead animals it is wise to wear wear gloves.

The (Dutch)Hunting Association urges its members to report any discovery of (multiple) dead hare (or other animals) in this field through the DWHC notice form. After reporting the animal DWHC contact with the detector and  discuss whether the animal is retrieved.
People with dogs are advised to be carefull if the dogs drag dead animals; in the case of hare plague that may easlily lead to infection..

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Haas (foto pixabay)

Tularemia diagnosed with two people in the Netherlands, disease on the rise again

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