. . .In a news release late last month, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced it had received calls about an “abundance” of hares — some of which were dead — in the Fairbanks area.
The dead hares could have possibly contracted an infectious disease known as tularemia. The disease, which is caused by the Francisella tularensis bacteria, “is most often diagnosed in hares and pets in the Interior between Memorial Day and Labor Day because it is spread by hare and vole ticks which are active during the summer. The tick species known to carry the bacteria prefer hares and rodents, but will occasionally bite dogs, cats, or people,” the wildlife agency said.
Additionally, the agency noted, two species of dog ticks “have become established around urban areas in Alaska and are capable of spreading the bacteria.”
Pets can also contract the disease from “mouthing or catching” hares that have tularemia. If a pet is infected, people, too, can contract tularemia via their pet’s saliva or by handling infected hares. And, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, people can become infected “even before the pet exhibits signs of illness.”
There are multiple types of tularemia, per the Mayo Clinic. But in the most common form of the disease — ulceroglandular tularemia — signs in humans typically include fever, chills, exhaustion, a skin ulcer at the infection site and swollen and painful lymph glands. Infected pets, too, can show similar signs, such as lethargy, high fever and swollen lymph nodes, according to the wildlife department. (Read more from “Alaska Officials Warn of Common Animal Spreading Deadly Disease to People, Pets” HERE)