Most people exposed to tularemia who become sick generally do so within three to five days, although it can take as long as 14 days. Several types of tularemia exist, and which type you get depends on how and where the bacteria enter the body. Each type of tularemia has its own set of symptoms.
This is the most common form of the disease. Signs and symptoms include:
- A skin ulcer that forms at the site of infection — usually an insect or animal bite
- Swollen and painful lymph glands
People with glandular tularemia have the same signs and symptoms of ulceroglandular tularemia, but without skin ulcers.
This form affects the eyes and may cause:
- Eye pain
- Eye redness
- Eye swelling and discharge
- An ulcer on the inside of the eyelid
- Sensitivity to light
Usually caused by eating poorly cooked wild animal meat or drinking contaminated water, this form affects the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Signs and symptoms include:
- Throat pain
- Mouth ulcers
- Inflamed tonsils
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
This type of tularemia causes signs and symptoms typical of pneumonia:
- Dry cough
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
Other forms of tularemia also can spread to the lungs.
This rare and serious form of the disease usually causes:
- High fever
- Extreme exhaustion
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
When to see a doctor
If you think you may have been exposed to tularemia — especially if you've been bitten by a tick or handled a wild animal in an area where tularemia is found and have developed fever, skin ulcers or swollen glands — see a doctor as soon as possible.
July 08, 2015
- Tularemia. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/tularemia/. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Penn RL. Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathogenesis of tularemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Longo DL, et al, eds. Tularemia. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Penn RL. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of tularemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Tickborne diseases of the United States — A reference manual for health care providers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/healthcare/clinicians.html. Accessed June 21, 2015.
- Game from farm to table. USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/meat-preparation/game-from-farm-to-table/. Accessed June 21, 2015.