Tularaemia is an acute, moderately severe, infectious disease of animals and, secondarily, of man. Man becomes infected by handling wild rodents, especially wild rabbits and hares, that are infected with the disease or that have died of it. Infection may also occur through contact with water, straw, or food products contaminated by such animals, as well as by tick or insect bites; by eating contaminated, under-cooked meat; by inhaling contaminated dust or aerosols; or by drinking contaminated water. The symptoms are fever, severe headache, insomnia, night sweats, and swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes.
The disease is named after Tulare County, California, USA, where it was first isolated, in 1911, by G McCoy and C Chapin, in infected ground squirrels.
Tularaemia has been reported on all continents except Australia, but does not occur to the same degree in all areas. It is more prominent in the Holarctic animal region: Russia, Japan and the United States. The two main regions in which numerous infections of man have occurred are the USA (except Hawaii) and the southern USSR.