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Tularemia infection varies from a mild illness to acute sepsis (serious infection of the blood or other tissues) and rapid death. After exposure to the bacteria, you will usually develop symptoms within 3 to 5 days, but they can take up to 21 days to appear. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint stiffness or pain
  • Dry cough
  • Weakness

In most people, progressive weakness leads to a dry cough and pneumonia. Tularemia-induced pneumonia can cause chest pain, bloody sputum (saliva or mucus), and trouble breathing. Depending on how you were exposed to the bacteria, other symptoms may include

  • A red spot on the skin that enlarges to an ulcer
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Swollen and painful lymph glands
  • Swollen and painful eyes
  • Sore throat

The inhalation form of tularemia begins 3 to 5 days after you have been exposed to the bacteria. In some cases, pneumonia develops after several days or weeks. If left untreated, the disease could lead to respiratory failure.

Last Updated March 06, 2009