Have you ever thought that being bitten by a rat or rodent could prove life-threatening? Yes, about 13% of rat-bite fever caused by a bacterium found in rat saliva could prove life-threatening. Fever, joint pain and rash are some of the symptoms associated with rat-bite fever. Rat-bite fever, dating back to 2,300 years ago, is rare disease known with only 200 cases have been reported in past 150 years. Dr. Carina Brown, a resident physician at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said that teens are more likely to suffer with rat-bite fever. The study published today (Dec. 22) in the journal BMJ Case describes how pet rats have caused their owner to have a stay at hospital.
She describes the story of a young woman, who went to the emergency room in January 2015 because of pain in her hip and lower back. The woman was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics during the second day of developing the fever. When she was first admitted to the hospital, she told doctors that she is having several pets: dogs, cat, horse and three rats. Doctors suspected several zoonoses (diseases contracted from animals), including rat-bite fever. After seven days of blood test and cultures, the diagnosis of rat-bite fever was not confirmed. The young teenage woman was actually suffering with rat-bite fever after being scratched by her three pet rats.
For four continuous weeks, doctors treated the young woman using intravenous antibiotics. After five days, her fever and rash disappeared, and after four weeks, her joint pain completely went away. The good part is that, doctors stated that the rat-bite fever is treatable if diagnosed on the right time.