Rare infection spreading in Switzerland

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    The tularemia bacterium could cause a deadly outbreak in humans if untreated properly. Photo credit: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases

    Health officials in Switzerland have reported a sharp increase in the rare bacterial infection tularemia in humans. A growing number of incidents with tick bites has been recorded over the past few years. The Federal Health Office counted 130 confirmed cases of tularemia last year, according to Swiss public radio, SRF. This is four times more than usual.

    An ulcer caused by Francisella tularensis. Source: CDC

    Typical symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle pain, enlarged lymph nodes and red spots on the skin. If untreated with antibiotics, the infection can be fatal in humans. The best precaution against rodent plague is for humans to protect against tick bites, according to the Federal Health Office.

     

    Infection can be transmitted through the bite of infected insects ( ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria. Humans could also be exposed to tularemia as a result of bioterrorism.

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