ALTUS, OK (KSWO)- Two jackrabbits have been confirmed as infected with tularemia at Altus Air Force Base. Another case was reported in the Blanchard area. Tularemia is naturally occurring and commonly referred to as "rabbit fever." Although, Tularemia is common in rabbits, hares, muskrats and beavers.
Small-game hunters should be aware and stay on the lookout for cases of tularemia. Infected rabbits may behave in unusual ways or seem to be lethargic.
Use safe handling practices and to wear rubber or latex gloves whenever handling any wild game. Thoroughly cook all wild game meat before eating. Use a tick repellant and do not drink raw water from lakes or streams.
Tularemia can be passed from animals to people and pets through flea and tick bites, contact with an infected animal, inhalation (i.e., mowing over an infected carcass), and contaminated water. It is treatable with antibiotics.
Oklahoma ranks third behind Arkansas and Missouri in the number of people infected each year with Tularemia. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has no immediate plans to alter rabbit hunting season, which runs through March 2017.
If you encounter a concentration of dead rabbits, contact the Wildlife Department at 405-590-2583.
Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.