- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - State health officials say seven cases of a rare infectious disease that humans can catch from animals and insects have been reported in western South Dakota.

State epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger says the cases of tularemia, sometimes called rabbit fever, have been reported in the Black Hills since June. He says the disease is “fairly uncommon but potentially severe.”

Tularemia symptoms in humans vary depending on how the infection was acquired. They include fever, chills and muscle ache; an ulcer may appears were the bacteria entered the skin.

Six of the seven cases were adults over the age of 50 and one was a child under 5. Five were hospitalized.

Kightlinger says one of the ill individuals had direct contact with a pet cat that tested positive for tularemia.

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