Rat-bite fever: Teenager catches rare disease from pet rodents living in her bedroom

The teenager had been living with three rats in her room 

Kashmira Gander
Wednesday 23 December 2015 12:48 GMT

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Louise Thomas

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A teenager was hospitalised and left unable to move after she developed the rare rat-bite fever disease from her pet rodents which lived in her bedroom.

The teenager, who has not been named, was taken to hospital after she complained of a pain in her right hip and lower back which later made her immobile, according to the online medical journal BMJ Case Reports.

She suffered for two weeks with an intermittent fever, nausea and vomiting and had a pink rash on her hands and feet.

The teenager, who had numerous pets including a dog, cat, horse and three pet rats, has since made a full recovery after undergoing a course of antibiotics.

Blood tests showed that she was infected with for streptobacillus moniliformis – the most common cause of rat-bite fever. One of her three pet rats lay dead in her room for three weeks before her symptoms showed.

First noted in writing as far back as 2,300 years ago as a disease for the poor, only 200 cases of rat-bite fever have been recorded in the US since 1839. Rat-bite fever is commonly spread through a nip or a scratch from a rodent, however some cases have involved an infection without direct bacterial inoculation.

The condition is believed to be underreported, with most cases occurring in lab workers or children with pet rodents.

The symptoms of rat-bit fever include: a fever, vomiting, headache, a rash, and muscle and joint pain, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If left untreated the disease can have a mortality rate of 13 per cent.

Additional reporting by PA

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