Tasmania | Two Tasmanians have been diagnosed with the rare infection Tularaemia. After being bitten by possums, both persons developed inflammation and ulcers of the skin at the site of the injury and tender swelling of their lymph glands. Both cases were treated by their general practitioners and specialists.
This particular form of Tularaemia was previously unknown in the southern hemisphere. A joint investigation has been launched by the Public and Environmental Health Service and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
The investigation is complex and will take time. It involves health, wildlife and microbiology experts from Tasmania, interstate and overseas.
Wild animal survey
Possums and their ticks will be surveyed over the next month. Carcasses will be collected. Sampling will occur within five-kilometre radii of where each event happened, between Queenstown and Zeehan.
Possums appear to be the most likely source of infection for the two cases. However, the investigation will proceed with the understanding that other animals, insects, and the environment may be involved.
Depending on the findings of the first survey, the investigation may expand to involve additional wild species and areas.
Do not try to handle a sick, wild animal. Call the Animal Disease Emergency Hotline on 1800 675 888.
A review of possible past cases
No other cases of Tularaemia that were definitely acquired in Tasmania have been identified to date.
The case record review comprised:
- a review of Tasmanian hospitalisations from recent years for suggestive clinical presentations
- interviews with GPs on the West Coast
- request to GPs across the state to report any current or past cases of possible Tularaemia.
To report a suspected human infection of Tularaemia, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.