The N.C. Wildlife Commission and Division of Public Health are encouraging hunters to take precautions after a rabbit hunter in eastern North Carolina tested positive for tularemia, also known as rabbit fever. A second member of the same hunting party also showed signs of the disease, while both appear to be recovering.

“We’re just asking hunters to take precautions and be aware,” Carolyn Rickard, spokeswoman for the N.C. Wildlife Commission, told the Wilson Times.

Rabbit hunting season in North Carolina runs from Nov. 17 to Feb. 28.

Although rare, rabbit fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It’s also one where preventative measures can be taken. Diagnosed early it is successfully treated using antibiotics.

Marilyn Haskell, public health veterinarian and epidemiologist with the N.C. Division of Public Health, said the division’s role is to prevent diseases and its employees would like to get a prevention and education message out to the public.

Tularemia is a disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, and typically found in rodents and rabbits.

Since 1999, a total of 17 cases of tularemia have been reported in North Carolina.

Logo courtesy North Carolina Division of Public Health

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