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Rabbit fever in Germany: These precautions prevent infection in humans

Rabbit fever in Germany: These precautions prevent infection in humans


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Further cases of rabbit plague were found: people are also at risk

Over the past few days, the notifiable animal disease tularemia (rabbit fever) has been officially ascertained in various regions of Germany. The disease can be transmitted from animals to humans. Specialists recommend various precautions.

The dangerous infectious disease tularemia (rabbit fever) has been found in rabbits in the Hessian district of Limburg-Weilburg as well as in the Bavarian district of Günzburg and in the city of Deggendorf (Lower Bavaria) in the past few days. The bacterial disease can also be transmitted to humans.

New hare plague cases in three regions

According to a message from the Limburg-Weilburg district (Hesse), hare fever was found in various places in the district.

The Bavarian districts of Günzburg and Deggendorf also report cases of rabbit fever.

The disease was found in rabbits found dead.

The bacterial infection is also transferable to humans. Therefore, certain precautions should be followed.

People can get infected

As the Landesbetrieb Hessisches Landeslabor explains in a leaflet, tularemia is an occasional infectious disease caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium.

The disease mainly affects rabbits (especially hares, wild rabbits) and rodents (field mice, hamsters), but also a large number of other wild animals and pets (e.g. deer, fox, hedgehog, sheep, dog, cat, bird). "A transfer to humans is possible (zoonosis)", write the experts.

As stated in the leaflet, the transmission routes for pets and wild animals as well as humans come into contact with skin and mucous membranes with infectious animal material, consumption of insufficiently heated, contaminated meat (rabbits) or water, stings from infected blood-sucking insects or ticks, as well as contaminated dusts and Aerosols in question.

The pathogen remains infectious even when frozen for months and is very resistant to external environmental influences.

Never touch sick animals

As the district of Limburg-Weilburg explains, sick wild animals generally do not show any typical escape behavior, but look dull, listless and lose their speed and innate shyness. Under no circumstances should you touch the animals.

It should also be avoided that dogs come into contact with sick animals. Experts advise keeping dogs on a leash in the forest, field and in the field.

Further precautionary measures recommended by the Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL) on its website:

  • Compliance with occupational hygiene when dealing with sick or dead wild animals.
  • Compliance with work and kitchen hygiene when handling venison during preparation (skinning, gutting) and preparation.
  • Only consume game dishes that are well cooked.

Disease is treated with antibiotics

According to the Deggendorf district, people can become infected especially when they come into intensive contact with sick animals or their excretions or when handling carcasses. The incubation period in humans is between one and 14 days.

Depending on the route of infection, symptoms include fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, malaise, chills, headache, limb pain, abdominal pain, cough and nausea.

"If symptoms occur after contact with rabbits or other sensitive small mammals, a doctor should be consulted immediately and informed about the contact," writes the State Office of the Hesse State Laboratory.

Recognized in good time, the disease can be treated with antibiotics. The chances of recovery are usually very good. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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