Rabbit Fever: Tularemia Safeguards When Cooking Rabbit

Learn about the disease tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, symptoms of the disease, and necessary tularemia safeguards to take when hunting, butchering and cooking rabbit.

| March/April 1987

  • Rabbit fever
    Primary hosts for these nasty little buggers are rodents and lagomorphs, but rabbit fever can be transmitted to humans through physical contact . . . as in preparing an infected animal for the stewpot.
    PHOTO: FOTOLIA/MERYLL

  • Rabbit fever

The disease tularemia, commonly known as rabbit fever, can cause sickness in humans if the rabbit is not handled correctly. Learn about the symptoms of the disease, and necessary tularemia safeguards to take when hunting, butchering and cooking rabbit. 

Rabbit Fever: Tularemia Safeguards When Cooking Rabbit

Tularemia—commonly known as rabbit fever—is an infectious disease caused by a parasitic bacterium with the lilting name Pasteurella tularensis. Primary hosts for these nasty little buggers are rodents and lagomorphs, but rabbit fever can be transmitted to humans through physical contact . . . as in preparing an infected animal for the stewpot. (Thorough cooking kills the bacteria, rendering the meat of infected animals safe to handle and eat.)

In rabbits, the symptoms of tularemia include lethargy and damage to various internal organs; in humans, the primary indications are fever and the swelling of lymph nodes. Although the disease is rare these days and can readily be cured with prompt medical attention, the threat remains: grave illness and the remote possibility of death.

Country wisdom has long held—and correctly so—that rabbit fever can be avoided by not harvesting wild bunnies until after autumn's first killing frost; and even then, never handle dead or alive—an animal that behaves unnaturally. Today, that wisdom has been indirectly incorporated into law in most states, since legal rabbit-hunting seasons almost never open before late fall or early winter, and generally close before the arrival of spring.



So, yes, there is such a thing as rabbit fever, even today. But no, it isn't a great threat and shouldn't keep those who wish to do so from hunting and eating wild lagomorphs. Here are the rules for safety:

1. Harvest wild rabbits only during legal hunting seasons.

2. Avoid handling animals that indicate by their actions (or inaction) that they may be ill.

3. If you have cuts or open sores on your hands, wear rubber gloves when preparing wild rabbits for the pot.

4. Cook all wild meat thoroughly.

The meat of cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares is tender, tasty, and healthful. There's no need to let the remote threat of tularemia keep you from munching bunny. Just be aware.






mother-audience

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.

LEARN MORE






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters



click me