Attempts to develop a tularemia vaccine have not been successful so far. If you work in a high-risk occupation or live in an area where tularemia is present, these measures may help reduce your chance of infection:

  • Protect yourself from insects. Most people get tularemia though tick bites. If you spend time in tick-infested areas, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, tuck your pants into your socks, and use a broad-brimmed hat to help protect your face and neck. Even bundled up, you'll need to check your skin and clothing often for ticks.

    Use an insect repellent, but follow the manufacturer's directions carefully. Products containing DEET are still considered the most effective against ticks, although oil of lemon eucalyptus or natural insecticides may offer some protection. Use the lowest concentration of repellent for the circumstances, apply it in moderation, and wash it off at the end of the day. Don't use repellents containing DEET on infants younger than 2 months. Check yourself for ticks often and remove them immediately if you find any.

  • Take care when gardening. Home gardeners and professional landscapers should consider wearing a face mask when excavating the soil, clearing weeds or brush, or mowing lawns.
  • Handle animals carefully. If you hunt or handle wild rabbits or hares, wear gloves and protective goggles, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after touching the animal. Cook all wild meat thoroughly, and avoid skinning or dressing any animal that appeared ill.
  • Protect your pets. Livestock and pets can contract tularemia if they eat part of a diseased rabbit or are bitten by an infected tick. To help keep your pets safe, avoid letting them outside unsupervised, provide them with flea and tick protection, and don't let them come in close contact with wild or dead animals.
Aug. 30, 2012