Fairbanks pet owners to be aware of disease spread by hares

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska The Alaska Department of Fish and Game advise pet owners to not allow their pets to roam free without supervision.

A Tularemia outbreak in snowshoe hares in the Fairbanks area has been reported and if obtained by dogs or cats, can be deadly.

The bacteria is spread by hare and vole ticks which are active during the summer.

The infection can be obtained by both humans and pets.

"Even the saliva from the dog's mouth, or even a scratch from a cat who has handled the sick hare can then transmit the bacteria to a person even before the dog or cat get sick," Dr. Kimberlee Beckman said, a Wildlife Veterinarian for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"If your dog or cat goes off-feed and is very lethargic and suddenly sick, that they take it to the vet right away, even if it is on the weekends or after hours they need to go to the emergency clinic and get them diagnosed and treated right away, otherwise it is rapidly fatal." Beckman added.

Pets can pick up tularemia by mouthing or catching sick hares. Seek medical attention if fever, redness, swelling or flu-like symptoms occur after handing anything that comes out of your pet's mouth after they have been in contact with a hare.

Reports and information can be addressed to the Wildlife Health Surveillance program at dfg.dwc.vet@alaska.gov or 907-328-8354.

For more information about ticks and submitting them to the Alaska Submit-A-Tick program, visit https://dec.alaska.gov/eh/vet/ticks/submit-a-tick.