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Deadly Case Of Rabbit Fever Confirmed In Coconino County

Health officials in Coconino County have confirmed a deadly case of Tularemia, better known as rabbit fever. Arizona Public Radio’s Aaron Granillo reports the case was discovered in the Flagstaff-area.

There have been five cases of rabbit fever in the county since 2005. This year was the first time during that span somebody died from the illness. The person’s identity has not been released. Tularemia is a bacterial disease that most commonly infects rodents, rabbits and other mammals. Randy Phillips is a manager with the Coconino County Public Health Services District.

“It can be transmitted to a human through contact with the skin, eyes, mouth or lungs," says Phillips. "It’s usually transmitted by bites from an infected deer fly, or a tick, or from an infected animal.”  

Phillips says symptoms include ulcers, swelling and chest pains. He says hunters should be especially careful when handling dead animals, and pet owners are urged to keep their animals out of contact with any wildlife. 

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