Left untreated, tularemia can be fatal. Other possible complications include:
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- Inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia). Pneumonia can lead to respiratory failure — a condition in which the lungs don't take in enough oxygen, release enough carbon dioxide or both.
- Infection around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Meningitis is a serious and sometimes life-threatening infection of the fluid and membranes (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck and sensitivity to light. If not treated promptly, bacterial meningitis can cause brain damage and even death.
- Irritation around the heart (pericarditis). This is swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the thin membrane that surrounds the heart. Mild pericarditis often improves without treatment, but more-serious cases may require antibiotic therapy.
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis). Tularemia bacteria sometimes spread to the bones, leading to pain, decreased range of motion in nearby joints, and sometimes to skin redness, tenderness or open sores in the affected areas.
- Tularemia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tularemia/index.html. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9122226. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed May 4, 2012.
- Graham J, et al. Tick-borne illnesses: A CME update. Pediatric Emergency Care. 2011;27:141.
- Snowden J, et al. Tularemia: Retrospective review of 10 years' experience in Arkansas. Clinical Pediatrics. 2011;50:64.
- Conlan JW. Tularemia vaccines: Recent developments and remaining hurdles. Future Microbiology. 2011;6:391.
- Safe minimum cooking temperatures. FoodSafety.gov. http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html. Accessed May 15, 2012.
- Game from farm to table. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/farm_raised_game/index.asp. Accessed May 15, 2012.