Saturday, April 30, 2005
Tularemia Associated with a Hamster Bite
Brief Report: Tularemia Associated with a Hamster Bite
--- Colorado, 2004
: "In April 2004, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) was notified about a boy aged 3 years with diagnosed tularemia associated with a hamster bite. Tularemia has not been associated previously with pet hamsters. CDPHE conducted an investigation to determine whether other owners of hamsters were at risk. Clinicians and public health officials should be aware that pet hamsters are a potential source of tularemia.

During January 2--February 8, the boy was exposed to six hamsters that his family had purchased from a pet store in the Denver metropolitan area. Each hamster reportedly died from 'wet tail disease' (i.e., diarrhea) within 1 week of purchase. One hamster bit the child on the left ring finger shortly before it died. Seven days later, the child had fever, malaise, painful left axillary lymphadenopathy, and skin sloughing at the bite site. After treatment with amoxicillin clavulanate failed, the patient underwent excisional biopsy of a left axillary lymph node 49 days after symptom onset for persistent painful lymphadenopathy and intermittent fever. Tissue culture yielded a suspected Francisella tularensis isolate, which was confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction and timed-release fluorescence at the CDPHE laboratory.

Although tularemia has been associated with hamster hunting in Russia (2), it has not been associated previously with pet hamsters in the United States.
(2) Munnich D, Lakatos M. Clinical, epidemiological, and therapeutical experience with human tularemia. Infection 1979;7:61--3.

jaynote: There's Russian Hamster Hunters?? they must be pretty busy since it takes a hundred to make a coat.

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