Francisella spp

From Ferret
Colonies of Francisella tularensis on agar plate

Tularemia is a rare, notifiable and often fatal bacterial disease of mustelids.

Tularemia is an epizootic reportable disease of mustelids caused by Francisella tularensis[1]. Outbreaks have been reported in minks.

This bacterium is an aerobic nonmotile gram-negative, pleomorphic, bipolar coccobacillus that is prevalent in the south central USA[2].

Tularemia is spread by aerosol, ingestion, and biting insects, especially ticks (Amblyomma spp and Dermacentor spp)[3].

Clinical signs in affected mustelids include fever, anorexia and lethargy. Acute deaths from acute septicemia are very common.

Prodromal signs are minimal.

Postmortem findings reveal necrotic nodules scattered in the parenchyma of the lungs, liver, spleen, and mesenteric lymph nodes.

Diagnosis is based on microbial isolation of F. tularensis and PCR assaying of infected tissue[4].

Treatment of individual animals is not usually effective.


  1. Quinn JH et al (2012) Pathogen and rodenticide exposure in American badgers (Taxidea taxus) in California. J Wildl Dis '48(2):467-472
  2. Wobeser G et al (2009) Tularemia, plague, yersiniosis, and Tyzzer's disease in wild rodents and lagomorphs in Canada: a review. Can Vet J 50(12):1251-1256
  3. Bow MR & Brown JH (1943) Tularemia in the “Seven Persons Coulee,” Alberta. Can J Public Health 34:415–418
  4. Lang S & Kleines M (2012) Two at one blow: reemergence of tularemia in Upper Austria. New Microbiol 35(3):349-352