Rabbit Fever Cases: 2 New Reports of Deadly Rabbit Fever Hit North Carolina

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(Photo: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe)A rabbit is shown in this file photo.

Rabbit fever cases have struck down two men in eastern North Carolina, according to reports out Monday.

Two hunters have reportedly been struck down with tularemia, which is more commonly known as "Rabbit Fever," and is a potentially deadly disease, according to Live Science.

According to officials investigating the cases, it is believed both men were infected with the fever while rabbit hunting in eastern North Carolina.

According to the National Institutes of Health, rabbit fever is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

Cases of rabbit fever are relatively rare, however, if it remains untreated it can potentially cause death in those infected.

Those suffering from the fever can experience symptoms such as fever, joint and muscle stiffness, skin ulcers, diarrhea, sweating and weight loss.

Pneumonia is also another side-effect that has been associated with those catching rabbit fever.

Marilyn Haskell, epidemiologist with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, told the Wilson Times: "It can make you very, very sick."

Once identified, those infected with rabbit fever should receive a course of antibiotics, which should help them to recover if started early enough. Both men involved in the two cases in eastern North Carolina have already begun their courses of antibiotics and are said to be recovering well.

Even though its name is rabbit fever, it can actually be contracted through squirrels, raccoons, skunks, beavers, as well as rabbits.

However, the most common way the fever is transmitted is through a bite from an infected tick or mosquito, or through direct contact with an infected animal.

Some have also been known to contract the fever from eating undercooked meat of an animal with the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabbit fever infects about 126 people every year in the United States.