Tularaemia is caused by a bacterium, called Francisella tularensis, which is transmitted by ticks and other animals. Various tick species are responsible for 9% to 57% of transmission. Other animals that can transmit F. tularensis include rabbits, squirrels, opossums, cats, muskrats, and mosquitoes.
F. tularensis is mainly found in the Northern hemisphere and has been reported in North America, Russia, Europe, the Middle East, China, and Japan. Tularaemia has recently received attention due to its potential as a biological weapon.
Two predominant strains of F. tularensis have been isolated; type A and type B. Type A causes more severe disease, causing death in up to 5% to 7% of untreated patients. Type B generally causes a milder illness, which can occasionally be symptom-free.
- In adults - fever, headache, skin changes, malaise, and enlarged lymph nodes of the head and neck.
- In children - fever, sore throat, enlarged liver and spleen, fatigue and malaise.
Various clinical subtypes of tularaemia have been described depending on the mode of transmission and organ systems involved.
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