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Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
2014 - 2015
Presence of Francisella tularensis in meat from tularemic hares - a risk for human infection
Tularemia is a zoonosis caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which infect and cause disease in a large number of animal species and humans. In humans the disease presentations vary with the route of infection. The common ulceroglandular type develops after direct contact with an infected animal or through bite from mosquitos or ticks. It is not unusual for hare hunters to get infected while dressing hares. Common gross lesions in mountain and European brown hares which die of acute infection are enlarged liver and spleen and necroses in liver, spleen and bone marrow. Necropsies at SVA have shown that it is also quite common that gross lesions are lacking, which increase the risk that the hunter does not realize that the hare is infected. There are descriptions of people contracting tularemia after consumption of infected hares. In our study we are investigating if hares diagnosed with tularemia also have Francisella tularensis in the musles (meat), and thereby can be a possible source of infection for humans. This is of importance since hunters are allowed to sell small amounts of meat directly to persons, shops, restaurants and game handling establsments, with increased risk for general public to become infected. PCR will be performed on muscle tissue for detection of Francisella tularensis. The muscles will also be examined microscopally and immunohistochemically to reveal any pathological lesions and to describe the localization of the bacteria.