Bacterial Disease (Tularemia) in Prairie Dogs

Tularemia in Prairie Dogs

Though rarely encountered among prairie dogs, tularemia spreads quickly and is fatal in almost all cases. The bacteria Francisella tularensis, which is transmitted to prairie dogs from infected ticks or mosquitoes, ultimately causes tularemia. And due to its ability to infect humans, prairie dogs with tularemia or those that have been exposed to infected animals should be euthanized.


  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Rough hair coat
  • Loss of coordination


Tularemia is transmitted from the bites of ticks and mosquitoes infected with the Francisella tularensis bacteria.


Diagnosis is typically made during a post-mortem examination, in which the veterinarian notices bleeding in the lungs, an enlarged liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. However, X-rays may also reveal enlargement of the liver and spleen while the prairie dog is still alive.

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