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Biosecur Bioterror. 2009 Sep;7(3):331-6. doi: 10.1089/bsp.2009.0029.

Tularemia outbreak at a metropolitan airport, Texas.

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Department of Internal Medicine, New Mexico University School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA.


A jackrabbit die-off near a metropolitan airport was observed by an airport contractor. Further investigation determined that this die-off was probably due to epizootic tularemia. Because of proximity to areas of heavy human traffic and fears of transmission of tularemia to humans, the local health district and department of emergency management organized a multiagency response involving local animal control, environmental health, public health, law enforcement, and airport personnel, in addition to state and federal agencies. The tularemia epizootic subsequently ended, and no cases of human tularemia occurred. In our after-action analysis, we identified several lessons learned: the importance of animal illness surveillance, which can serve as a warning for potential human illness and epidemic; the usefulness of pre-event planning, training, and exercises in facilitating a coordinated response; the usefulness of an effective communication system with the healthcare community; the importance of responders being familiar with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Category A bioterrorism agents when considering a rapid response; and the fact that attempts at environmental control may result in perturbations in animal populations with unintended consequences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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