Health officials in Jefferson County, Colorado, are warning people to stay away from sick or dead rabbits because the animals may have a disease called "rabbit fever" that can also infect humans.
Rabbit fever, or tularemia, is a disease commonly found in rabbits, beavers and rodents, and it can be life-threatening in humans. However, if certain precautions are taken, the chances of contracting it are relatively low.
CBS Denver reports that this year health officials have issued a warning about the disease, which can be spread if people handle infected animals or if they get bitten by a tick or flea that carries the bacteria.
"We had a rabbit from the southern part of the county near the town of Bow Mar that tested positive for tularemia," Dave Volkel, an environmental health specialist with Jefferson County Public Health, told CBS Denver.
Volkel has been looking for dead rabbits in the area to test them for the disease in a lab. When he finds one, he bags it and puts it in his cooler.
"I've got some ice that will keep it from going bad," he said.
Volkel wants to see if the rabbits are dying from tularemia, which he says is common in animals.
More plus video: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/colorado-health-officials-warn-about-rabbit-fever/