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  • Knoxville Educational Article of the Month - What Diseases do Groundhogs Carry?

What Diseases do Groundhogs Carry?

There aren't any common diseases that Knoxville groundhogs can easily pass on to other mammals such as us, humans or our pets (dogs, cats, etc.). However, as with most wild animals they tend to be carriers of several different parasites such as:
• Fleas
• Ticks
• Worms
In this article, we will talk about three documented diseases found in Tennessee groundhogs.

Unlike most rodents who rarely contract this disease, Tennessee groundhogs are somewhat more susceptible the rabies virus. They come into contact with the virus by other animals infested with the virus such as raccoons.

This is the one we often connect with rabies.
• Paralytic type - This type of rabies takes longer to set in and is considered to be the severer of the two. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), thirty percent of rabies cases end up being this type.

Symptoms of rabies are:
• Anxiety
• Aggression
• Confusion
• Excessive salivating
• Fever
• Hallucination
• Insomnia
• Inflammation (in the area of the bite)
• Muscle weakness
• Paralysis
• Phobia to water
• Tingling sensation

A rare infectious disease, tularemia is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It will often attack a mammal's:
• Skin
• Eyes
• Lungs
• Lymph nodes

Tularemia may pass on to other Knoxville mammals as well as humans, through several ways such as:
• Insect bites
• Direct contact

This disease is considered highly contagious and could be potentially fatal. However, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics specifically for such cases if it were to be diagnoses early enough. There are several types of tularemia that exist and each type has its own set of symptoms. However, we will only mentioned the most common type in this article which is uleroglandular tularemia. It's signs and symptoms include:
• Chills
• Fever
• Exhaustion or lethargy
• Headaches
• Skin ulcers
• Swollen and often painful lymph glands

Sylvatic Plague
Caused by bacteria (Yersinia pestis), the sylvatic plague is most often found in wild Tennessee rodents such as groundhogs however, most of the cases of sylvatic plague are found in prairie dogs and not groundhogs. It may pass on to humans if you were to handle a dead Knoxville animal contaminated with it or by flea bites. Symptoms often begin within two to six days of being infected and will manifest in ways such as:
• Fever
• Chills
• Weakness
• Swollen lymph nodes

Sometimes, the infection can end up spreading from the lymph nodes into the person's lungs and other parts of the body. There are three types of the plague out there:
• Bubonic (lymph nodes)
• Pneumonic (blood)
• Septcemic (lungs)

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