- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - Weld County says that five more men have contracted rabbit fever, putting Colorado within striking distance of a state record for cases of what normally is a relatively rare bacterial disease.

The county health department reported Tuesday that the men who got sick were between the ages of 56 and 80. Two were hospitalized and three recovered at home.

Colorado currently has 16 human cases of rabbit fever, also called tularemia. Un an average year there are less than four cases. The record was 1983, when 20 cases were reported.

The disease can be carried by rodents, birds, flies and ticks.

Humans can become infected with tularemia through insect bites, by touching an infected animal or inhaling the bacteria. The bacteria can remain alive in soil, including in animal droppings.

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