A ten-year-old boy tragically died from rat-bite fever. Aidan Pankey was a healthy, happy child who adored his pet rat named Oreo and wanted her to have a family of her own. Aiden purchased a black male rat called Alex from a San Diego Petco in order for his beloved Oreo to have babies. Aiden's grandmother, Sharon Pankey, spoke about the bond between owner and pet that was special for Aiden and Oreo. "He'd pop her on his shoulder and that little rat would hang on. It was like she was saying, 'All right! Let's go dad,'" Sharon said.
Aidan was excited about the prospects of Oreo having babies and wasted no time sharing this enthusiasm with he grandmother. According to Sharon, "He said, 'You know Grammy, when Oreo has babies I'm going to be grandpa and you're going to be a great-grandma.'"
When Aidan purchased Alex from Petco, he was not aware that the rat had rat-bite fever. Two weeks after purchasing Alex, Aiden became sick and tragically died a day after showing symptoms. Alex, the male Petco-purchased rat, was sent to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention where it took several months for the diagnosis to be determined.
Oreo was also infected with rat-bite fever. "One of the things he loved most, his rat, ended up in him dying because the rat we bought, we found out later, had rat-bite fever," Sharon said.
The family is left devastated at the loss of the vibrant young boy who adored his pet Oreo. Aidan's heartbroken father discussed his sorrow at losing the son he loved. "He was my family. I'm probably down 30 to 35 pounds since then. I don't even get hungry. I just go until I pass out. It sounds bad but I just want him back," he said.
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