tularemia (tōlərēˈmēə) [key] or rabbit fever, acute, infectious disease caused by Francisella tularensis ( Pasteurella tularensis ). The greatest incidence is among people who handle infected wild rabbits. Tularemia may also be transmitted by other infected animals, ticks, or contaminated food or water. Within 10 days of contact the disease begins suddenly with high fever and severe constitutional symptoms. An ulcerating lesion (or several lesions) develops at the site of infection, such as the arm, eye, or mouth. The regional lymph nodes enlarge, suppurate, and drain. The infection may be complicated by pneumonia, meningitis, or peritonitis, and the mortality rate is about 6%. Treatment is with antibiotics. Continuous wet saline dressings can be beneficial for primary skin lesion.