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The most common ways you can get tularemia are by 

  • Being bitten by flies, ticks, or other bugs carrying the disease¬†
  • Handling infected animal tissue or fluids
  • Eating or drinking food or water contaminated by the bacteria
  • Breathing in the bacteria

You can also get tularemia by

  • Having direct contact with or ingesting bacteria-contaminated water, food, or soil
  • Handling contaminated animal skins
  • Inhaling infective aerosols from materials containing the bacteria

In Europe, there have been cases where the disease was caused by inhaling airborne bacteria generated during farm work, such as transporting infected hay. A small number (about 10 to 50 bacteria) can cause disease.

Laboratory workers also can become infected by inhaling bacteria while examining an open culture plate, for example.

There is no evidence you can get the disease from another person.

If the bacteria were to be used as a weapon, they would likely be made airborne for human exposure by inhaling them. Making an effective aerosol weapon using F. tularensis, however, would require considerable sophistication.

Last Updated June 14, 2007