Tularemia is a potentially fatal disease that typically affects rabbits, hares, and rodents, and can strike sheep, dogs, cats, and other mammals. Humans are also susceptible to various forms of tularemia. The bacterium Francisella tularensis causes the disease and is highly contagious. Working with infected animals and certain occupations or hobbies can increase one's risk of contracting the illness.
The most common way people contract tularemia is through skin contact, but the deadliest type of tularemia occurs when a person inhales the bacterium. This disease most commonly affects animals, and it is quite rare for humans to contract it. In the U.S., doctors typically diagnose no more than 200 cases a year. Early treatment is ideal to achieve a full recovery.
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