Can wild rabbit diseases pass down to dogs? The answer to that is Yes! However, unlike humans, it’s only in rare cases, if not one, that a wild rabbit disease is often passed down to dogs. And that’s why today, we will be looking at this very wild rabbit disease that is communicable to dogs.
Over the years, there have been some major discoveries in the linkage between wild rabbits and dogs. And one of those connections is found in the rabbit fever disease known as Tularemia, which surprisingly, can also affect not only dogs but humans as well. Now, before you get confused, let’s look at what the Tularemia disease is all about.
It Can be Transmitted to Dogs and Humans
WHAT IS TULAREMIA?
The rabbit fever known as tularemia is a bacterial disease that is often caused by a bacterium known as Francisella Tularensis. Most times, tularemia is found in rabbits and rodents, and it only survives by reproducing tumor-like masses and abscesses in the infected animal’s liver. Over the years, this very disease has not been seen or heard anywhere in South America, the United Kingdom, Africa, or Australia.
However, in North America, tularemia cases have spread all around the continent, and it is often seen in the late spring and summer period. And even though tularemia is not a very common infection in dogs, nevertheless, dogs can still be exposed to this bacterial disease if they happen to kill or eat an infected rabbit or rodent, or if they have an insect bite that has earlier had contact with an infected rabbit.
Transmitted By Eating Infective Animal / Insect Bites
HOW RABBITS CONTRACT TULAREMIA
Rabbits can get infected with Francisella tularensis in a lot of ways which include:
- Ingestion of the tissues or body fluids of an infected rabbit
As soon as the ingestion stops, the lymph nodes in the head, neck, and gastrointestinal system will immediately pick the bacteria and from there, systemic infection follows.
- A rabbit can be infected by drinking contaminated water.
- Rabbits can also contract tularemia bacterial diseases from blood-sucking insects and arachnids like fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, and midges.
As soon as the bacteria get into the rabbit’s lymph system, the organism will quickly spread to the bone marrow, lungs, liver, and spleen.
SIGNS OF TULAREMIA INFECTION IN DOGS?
As we mentioned earlier in this text, tularemia is an extremely rare infection in dogs. And dogs are known to be less susceptible to illness, than other species of animals.
Nevertheless, as soon as tularemia gets hold of a dog, it often self-limits it by causing the dog to experience
Symptoms in Dogs
- Short periods of poor appetite,
- Mild fever
- Inflammation in their eyes
- Draining abscesses
- Swollen lymph nodes
HOW CAN YOU DIAGNOSE TULAREMIA?
For you to be able to diagnose tularemia at an early stage, you need to look out the for the signs mentioned above, and never rule out any, even though it might not be severe.
And after you’ve looked out for the symptoms, the diagnostic tests usually cover
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood chemistry panel. When the test is carried out, it will reveal a high white blood cell count, low blood sugar, low blood sodium, and a high blood level of bilirubin. In some cases, although not commonly heard of, there may also be blood in the urine.
- DNA Test
- PCR Test
And here is the thing when running a blood test for tularemia’s diagnosis. The longer the blood test, the better. Put differently, blood tests carried out 2-4 weeks apart, is likely going to portray an increase in tularemia antibodies, which will indicate a whole lot about the infection. Other than that, a DNA test which is often known as PCR may also help in the identification of the tularemia bacteria, inside the tissue or blood samples.
CAN TULAREMIA BE TREATED?
Yes, tularemia can be treated. And this can be achieved through the use of antibiotics. Also, you need to understand that treating a dog infected with this bacteria, is going to need proper health attention. Thus, the infected dog may require hospitalization with full supportive care known as intravenous fluid therapy. And when it comes to treating the draining abscesses, surgical operations will be required to completely take it off.
CAN TULAREMIA AFFECT HUMANS?
The answer to this question is yes, tularemia can certainly affect humans because, it has a high zoonotic potential, which translates to its ability to affect both humans and animals.
And we as humans, can become highly exposed to these bacteria when we have
- Tick bites
- drink contaminated water
- Blood-sucking insects or scratches can also act as a source of exposing our body to these zoonotic bacteria. Mosquitos, Ticks
Once the bacteria successfully get into our system, it first creates a blister in the skin that will start appearing 3-5 days after we had contact with any of those transmitters. After 2- 4 days, the blister will ulcerate and then enter into the lymph system, before finally spreading to the rest of the body like cancer.
For the dogs, after they’ve been diagnosed with the bacterial disease and then hospitalized, these dogs will be duly separated(quarantined), and the veterinary team will always have to wear protective gear whenever they want to treat the infected dog.
Overall, tularemia is a wild rabbit communicable disease that can be passed down to a dog. So, at your first sight of spotting or diagnosing this bacterial infection, do your best to report the disease immediately to any vet doctor near you. Making such report immediately is of great public health importance to vet doctors because it not stopped early, could become a widespread disease
So, always make sure your rabbit or dog is kept in a serene and sanitized environment, where they won’t even have any cause to drink contaminated water or perhaps come in contact with insects that survive only in dirty environments!
Dogs are prone to this because of their Hunting Instincts. If You Dog Hunts Rabbits, or you see him Drag home a Dead rabbit – it would be wise to keep an Eye on Him for the Symptoms