Illinois health officials issue warning about life-threatening rabbit fever

European Wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in lovely green vegetation surroundings with white flowers

ST. LOUIS, MO — They may look cute and cuddly but if you see a wild rabbit in your yard, leave them alone. Illinois health officials are issuing the warning after a dead wild rabbit was found last week in the Chicago area with the disease, rabbit fever.

The bacteria is typically spread through the bite of infected ticks and flies. Symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms, rashes and skin ulcers. It can be life-threatening if not treated.

Officials say you should also keep a close eye on your pets and have them on leashes.