Francisella tularensis

Valeria Fabre Fabre, M.D., John G. Bartlett, M.D.
Francisella tularensis is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins ABX Guide.

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  • Small, pleomorphic, intracellular and extracellular fastidious aerobic Gram-negative coccobacillus [Fig 1].
  • Culture: poor or no growth on standard media.
    • Media most often employed: Thayer-Martin, BCYE or chocolate agar with addition of cysteine and/or cysteine (thioglycolate).
      • MacConkey does not yield growth.
    • Slow grower, may require CO2 supplementation.
  • Considered an important laboratory hazard to laboratory personnel requiring specialized safety procedures. Notify lab if considering diagnosis when submitting specimens; higher level labs may be required.
  • Four recognized subspecies that vary in location and virulence:
    • F. tularensis: distinguished by PCR.
      • Biovar tularensis (Type A), typically associated with lagomorphs (hares, rabbits, pikas)
      • Biovar holarctica (B), frequently associated with rodents and aquatic environments
      • Biovar mediasiatica and subspecies novicida

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Last updated: February 5, 2019