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A rabbit found near South Table Mountain Park has died from tularemia, according to Jefferson County Public Health. It’s the case of tularemia in an animal in Colorado this year, and the first in Jefferson County since 2015.

An uncommon, but serious, infectious disease, Tularemia is often spread through the bite of infected ticks and deer flies or through handling infected sick or dead animals, like rabbits or other rodents. Though less common, the disease can also be spread by eating the meat of infected rabbits or by inhaling airborne bacteria or drinking food or water contaminated with urine from an infected animal. Medical care should be obtained as soon as symptoms appear, especially if a sudden unexplained illness occurs three to five days after outdoor activity.

Jeffco Public Health states the risk of contracting tularemia is low if proper preventive steps are followed, including not feeding or playing with rabbits or other rodents (especially the sick or dead), keeping them out of yards and buildings, and checking for ticks.

And, for those with an adventuresome culinary bent, cook wild rabbit and rodent meat thoroughly before eating.

To learn more about tularemia, visit www.jeffco.us/2371 or call the Jefferson County Public Health Zoonosis program at 303-271-5730.