Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium causing the zoonosis tularemia. This highly virulent pathogen belongs to the class A biological threat agents of the CDC (USA). Tularemia may manifest by chronic regional lymphadenopathy usually associated with specific lesions at the bacterial inoculation site (e.g., skin ulcer, conjunctivitis, pharyngitis). Pneumonia (acute or tuberculosis-like chronic infections) and a pseudo-typhoid infection are two systemic, often life-threatening diseases. Classically, F. tularensis can infect a large number of animal species, although lagomorphs and small rodents are the primary sources of human infections. Tularemia is also a tick-borne disease, since many Ixodidae species can transmit the bacterium to humans and animals. Amazingly, this disease is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites in some Scandinavian areas. Finally, F. tularensis can survive for prolonged periods in the hydrotelluric environment. In some countries, tularemia is mainly a water-borne disease. The natural cycle of F. tularensis greatly vary between geographic areas, accounting for remarkable variations in the clinical and epidemiological aspects of tularemia in different countries.
Max Maurin, 58 years old, is Professor of Bacteriology at Grenoble Alps University hopital since 2002. He has been trained (MD, PhD) in Prof. Didier Raoult clinical microbiology department (URMITE, Marseille, France). His main research topic deals with diagnosis and treatment of zoonotic diseases. Since 2006, he has been specifically involved in the field of tularemia and other Francisella-related diseases, as the Scientific director of the French National Reference Center for tularemia. His fields of expertise include: bacteriology, cell biology, molecular biology, antibiotic susceptibility testing, bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and drug development. He has published more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals, more than 50 book chapters, and is a co-inventor of 6 patents. He is currently a co-chief editor of the Clinical Microbiology section of Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.