Tularemia pathophysiology

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Overview

Francisella tularensis is an extremely infectious bacteria; fewer than ten organisms can cause disease leading to severe illness. The bacteria penetrate into the body through damaged skin and mucous membranes, or through inhalation. Francisella tularensis is an intracellular bacterium, meaning that it is able to live as a parasite within host cells. It primarily infects macrophages, a type of white blood cell. It is thus able to evade the immune system. The course of disease involves spread of the organism to multiple organ systems, including the lungs, liver, spleen, and lymphatic system.

Pathogenesis

Transmission

Mechanism of infection

  • Francisella tularensis is one of the most infectious bacteria known; fewer than ten organisms can cause disease leading to severe illness.
  • The bacteria penetrate into the body through damaged skin and mucous membranes, or through inhalation.
  • Humans are most often infected by tick bite or through handling an infected animal.
  • Ingesting infected water, soil, or food can also cause infection. [2]
  • Tularemia can also be acquired by inhalation; hunters are at a higher risk for this disease because of the potential of inhaling the bacteria during the skinning process.
  • Tularemia is not spread directly from person to person.
  • Francisella tularensis is an intracellular bacterium, meaning that it is able to live as a parasite within host cells.
  • It primarily infects macrophages, a type of white blood cell. It is thus able to evade the immune system.
  • The course of disease involves spread of the organism to multiple organ systems, including the lungs, liver, spleen, and lymphatic system. [1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tularemia. Ellis J, Oyston PC, Green M, Titball RW. Tularemia. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2002;15(4):631-46. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12364373 Accessed March 28, 2016
  2. Francisella tularensis Bacteria Associated with Feline Tularemia in the United States. Larson MA, Fey PD, Hinrichs SH, Iwen PC. Francisella tularensis bacteria associated with feline tularemia in the United States. Emerging Infect Dis. 2014;20(12):2068-71. Accessed March 28, 2016

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