Lush Conditions Fuel Increase In Rabbit Fever

July 6, 2015
Photo: Rabbit in Littleton (AP Photo)
In this July 5, 2015, photo, a rabbit dines on the lawn surrounding a car dealership in Littleton, Colo. A damp spring has provided rabbits with ample food supplies and, as a result, has increased the population of rabbits which, in turn, has upped the risk for a relatively rare bacterial disease in the state-tularemia, or rabbit fever. 

The increase has led state and local health officials to urge doctors to keep the disease in mind in diagnosing patients and to warn homeowners to take precautions while mowing the lawn and gardening.

The disease is found across the country, with an average of about 135 cases normally reported each year, much of them in the south-central United States.

State veterinarian Jennifer House says relatively wet conditions over the past two years also seem to be fueling two other diseases carried by rodents — hantavirus and plague.