2013 Volume 66 Issue 6 Pages 543-545
Tularemia is a zoonotic disease caused by Francisella tularensis. Most patients in Japan have reportedly acquired such infections through direct contact with infected Japanese hares. We recently encountered a patient who contracted tularemia after skinning and butchering a dead hare. Because the remains of the hare were available, we attempted to determine whether the patient actually contracted infection by handling the carcass. F. tularensis-specific sequences were successfully amplified by PCR from the patient specimens as well as from the remnants of discarded hare carcass. PCR amplification of the ISFtu2 and RD1 regions indicated infection by F. tularensis subsp. holarctica, which was considered as a prevalent strain in Japan. Furthermore, high-resolution multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) showed that the combination of repeat numbers in sequences from the patient and hare were indistinguishable, thus indicating that the patient had been infected with F. tularensis strain that had also infected the hare. These findings demonstrated that MLVA is a useful epidemiological investigational tool to identify possible sources of certain zoonotic diseases such as tularemia.