Rodents, Rabbits and Tularemia in North America: Some Zoological and Epidemiological Considerations

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  • Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Division of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Health, Hamilton, Montana
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The term “rodents” is often used to include all small mammals, particularly those of an injurious nature, yet, properly speaking, the rodents, Order Rodentia, are a definite zoological group best characterized by the chisel-like incisor teeth, four in number, and the absence of canine teeth. The rabbits, which were previously classed as a suborder of the rodents, are now placed by most mam-malogists in a separate order, the Lagomorpha, which was proposed by Gidley (1912). The rabbits differ markedly from the true rodents in their parasites, diseases, and reactions to disease.

Tularemia is stated by most writers to be a rodent disease but practically all have failed to distinguish between true rodents and rabbits.

Simpson (1929) states, “Tularemia exists primarily as an infectious disease of wild rodents particularly rabbits.”

Green (1931) says, “Tularemia is known to be a disease of rabbits as well as many other rodents.”