Infected Rat Bite Death: Is Rat Bite Fever Common?

Lacy LangleyLife

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An infected rat is being blamed for taking the life of 10-year-old Aidan Pankey, and now his grieving parents are suing Petco. The rat was reportedly infected with streptobacillus moniliformis which causes what is commonly known as rat bite fever, according to Fox News.

Aidan was rushed to the emergency room on June 11, 2013 and died hours later on June 12th. He was lethargic, pale, and complaining of severe stomach pain. He was barely able to walk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Rat Bite Fever can be contracted from the bite or scratch, or simple handling, of an infected rodent such as a rat, mouse, gerbil, hamster, etc. It can also be contracted through contaminated water or food.

The CDC says that Rat Bite Fever is underdiagnosed since it responds well to common antibiotics like penicillin and is hard to detect as it presents like common viruses and bacterial infections. They also say it is rarely fatal.

Petco expressed condolences in a statement saying,

"We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss. The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family's concerns very seriously."

That doesn't do much for the Pankey family who want to prevent this happening to anyone else's child. They say that Petco should have had more information on the health of the rodents that they sell, and should have warned about the danger to children.

"It's a means to ensure this doesn't happen again," Family Attorney John Gomez said of the lawsuit. "Apparently there was some breakdown in procedures. They want tighter controls."

Although they know that no win in court will bring back their son, hopefully they can honor Aidan's memory by reducing the chances of another family losing a child to Rat Bite Fever.

"He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid who actually had a prior rat, who was a female, and he had this idea in his young head of having his female rat get married," Gomez said of Aidan.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Lacy Langley
Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.