Game and Fish Reminds Small Game Hunters of Tularemia Risks

Game and Fish Reminds Small Game Hunters of Tularemia Risks

CHEYENNE – Small game hunting season opens September 1, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department would like to remind hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of tularemia.

This disease has been unusually active in many regions of Wyoming this summer, so it’s particularly important to follow some common sense precautions to avoid being infected.

Tularemia is generally a disease of rabbits, muskrats, beavers and squirrels but can be transmitted to many other species-including humans-through the bites of infected ticks and biting flies. The Wyoming Department of Health cautions people may acquire tularemia when bit by infected ticks, deer flies or horse flies. It can also be transmitted by handling infected animals, or through ingestion or contact with contaminated water or insufficiently cooked meat.

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Tularemia can be a serious disease and, in rare cases, deadly. Tularemia symptoms can include fever, swollen and painful lymph glands, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, skin ulcers and diarrhea.  If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness and pneumonia.

To help prevent exposure, Game and Fish and the Wyoming Department of Health suggest these simple guidelines:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks crawling on clothing.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Apply insect repellents such as those containing 20 percent or more DEET and/or picaradin.
  • Upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, search self and children for ticks and remove if found.
  • Check pets for ticks; use tick control products recommended by veterinarians.
  • Added precautions to help reduce tularemia risk include:
  • Avoid bathing, swimming or working in untreated water and avoid drinking untreated water.
  • Avoid handling rabbits, squirrels or other animals that appear sick.
  • Wear rubber gloves when skinning animals, especially rabbits and squirrels; skin animals in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling sick or dead animals.
  • Cook meat thoroughly before eating, especially rabbit and squirrel.

For more information, visit or Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife health website.