Tularemia – Spain

August 12, 2021 – Four (4) cases of ulcero-ganglionic tularemia were reported in Aragon, Spain. No deaths recorded. Demographic information for the four cases was not provided in source.

The individuals were out crab fishing or handling at the Jalon River. It is suspected, that while handling the grabs, they were exposed to and contracted ulcero-ganglionic tularemia. According to the source, ulcero-ganglionic tularemia is caused by the gram-negative intracellular coccobacillus, Francisella tularensis, which is a zoonotic bacteria. The individuals infected by the bacteria reported symptoms of fever, respiratory infection, ulcerative lesions with suppuration of the hands, and auxiliary lymphadenopathy. The symptoms appeared approximated 3-5 days after contact with the infected crab.

The individuals were not admitted to a hospital as they responded well to antibiotic treatment. As mode of transmission varies for this infectious disease, officials warn individuals to avoid ingesting untreated water from a natural environment, practice protection against arthropod bites, avoid dead animals, use protective gear when handling animals (especially rabbits), and cook meat thoroughly. Current microbiological and other laboratory analyses are being conducted on the samples from the four cases.

Photo: a murine macrophage infected with Francisella tularensis.

Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever, is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Symptoms may include fever, skin ulcers, and enlarged lymph nodes. Occasionally, a form that results in pneumonia or a throat infection may occur.

The bacterium is typically spread by ticks, deer flies, or contact with infected animals. It may also be spread by drinking contaminated water or breathing in contaminated dust. It does not spread directly between people.

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