Tularaemia update

Tularaemia is an illness which can be caught from possums through a scratch or bite, but can also be transmitted through infected ticks and contaminated water sources.

It is extremely rare but has recently been seen in a woman in Sydney after she was bitten and scratched by a ringtail possum.

Only two cases of tularaemia have been diagnosed previously in Australia, both in Tasmania in 2011.

Symptoms include:

  • a skin ulcer at the site of the bite or skin exposure, and swelling of the nearby lymph glands (armpit or groin)
  • irritation and swelling of the eye and swelling of the lymph glands in front of the ear
  • sore throat, mouth ulcers, tonsillitis and swelling of the lymph glands in the neck
  • cough, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

The NSW government health department has a Fact Sheet available for download.