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Tularemia is a zoonotic bacterial disease that can affect many mammals. It is most prevalent among wild animals, but clinical cases occur regularly in cats, and outbreaks have been reported among sheep, captive prairie dogs and ranched mink. A variety of syndromes can be seen, but fatal septicemia is common in some animal species. In humans, the disease varies from a localized illness to fulminant, lifethreatening pneumonia or septicemia. Tularemia has recently emerged in some areas. It was recognized for the first time in Spain in 1997-1998, when two outbreaks, one associated with hares and the other linked to crayfish, affected more than 500 people. In 2000, a human epidemic in Kosovo was associated with a population explosion and epizootic among rodents, which occurred after large numbers of people had been displaced from their homes by the conflict. In 2002, an unexpected outbreak was seen among captive prairie dogs in the U.S., and the disease entered the Czech Republic in a shipment of these animals. Tularemia was detected for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere the same year, when a case caused by Francisella tularensis subsp. novicida was identified in Australia. In addition, tularemia is considered to be a potential bioterrorism agent.

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Iowa State University



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