There are already 28 infected with tularemia in Castilla y León and soon there will be many more: what is and how to treat hare fever
The week of September 22, 1997, a hunter was admitted to the Rio Carrión Hospital in Palencia with high fever, general discomfort, injuries to the fingers and lymph nodes in the armpits. While thousands of hares appeared dead in the fields throughout Castilla, we had just found the first case of tularemia in the history of Spain and it was not going to be the last.
In the last hours, the Junta de Castilla y León has confirmed three new cases that add to the 11 cases detected in July and the 14 that have appeared so far in August. There are 31 others under investigation. What is "hare fever", what causes it and, above all, what awaits us?
What's going on in Castilla y León?
As we were saying, the Epidemiological Surveillance Network of the Junta de Castilla y León has confirmed three new cases of tularemia this week. From what we know so far, the most affected locality seems to be Paredes de Nava, a municipality 25 kilometers from the capital, followed by Villarramiel and Palencia itself. In other words, the Tierra de Campos region seems to be the epicenter of this outbreak related to a vole overpopulation.
As Asaja explained in 20 minutes, "the situation is complicated because the affected area is very large and has been spreading throughout the province of Palencia." It should not be forgotten that other epidemics of this type affected half a thousand people and lasted for months and months in time.
What is tularemia?
Rio Carrion Hospital
What is it? Tularemia is a highly contagious septicemia of bacterial origin that mainly affects rodents, but is easily transmitted to humans. It is caused by Francisella tularensis It is named for the Californian county of Tulare, where it was first identified as squirrels in 1911.
How is it spread? Tularemia is usually spread by direct contact with an infected animal. However, cases of contagion by contaminated waters, consumption of poorly cooked infected meat or bites of lice, fleas or ticks have been documented.
What symptoms do you have? In humans, symptoms begin with high fever, joint pain, and general discomfort that lead to progressive weakness, finger injury, swollen glands, and gastrointestinal problems. It can also cause skin ulcers.
How is it treated? In principle, the disease is treated well with antibiotics (especially streptomycin). Although, taking into account the routes of infection, the Junta de Castilla y León insists on prevention. "It is important not to touch dead or sick animals, use rubber gloves to handle them and cook game meat perfectly."
What awaits us?
Outbreak from 2007-2008 (Rodrigez Ferri, 2017)
It is reasonable to expect cases to increase. Due to its epidemiological characteristics, the first cases of outbreaks begin to appear in late summer as wheat harvesting and rabbit hunting reach their peak. Normally, the number of infected grows during the fall and early winter.
Tularemia is a good example of a disease linked to globalization that is introduced in new socio-natural contexts and dynamite the uses and customs that have been installed in the rural world for centuries. It is not the most serious disease we will face, which is why it is an excellent opportunity to learn from our mistakes.