If you live with pests side-by-side, you’re lucky to be ignored. In the worst case scenario, rodents may bite people or pets, and sometimes it leads to rat bite fever. What is that, and what to do, if a rat attacked you or your pet?
- 1 Facts About Rat Bite Fever
- 2 Is Rat Bite Fever a Viral Infection?
- 3 Where Is Rat Bite Fever Most Common?
- 4 Rat Bite Fever Symptoms in Humans
- 5 Incubation Period
- 6 Rat Bite Fever Blood Test
- 7 Side Effects of Rat Bite Fever
- 8 Rat Bite Fever in Babies
- 9 Rat Bite Fever Treatment
- 10 Antibiotics
- 11 Amoxicillin For Rat Bite Fever
- 12 Rat Bite Fever in Dogs and Cats
- 13 Treatment
- 14 Rat Bite Fever Prevention
Facts About Rat Bite Fever
RBS is an acute human illness that is transmitted by rats, mice and other rodents through their saliva, urine or mucous discretions. It is also called streptobacillosis or epidemic arthritic erythema. Here are some rat bite fever facts:
- About half of cases of illness occurs in children that are bitten by either pet rats, or wild rodents due to house infestation.
- Laboratory workers are also often bitten by these animals.
- The disease is spread by some other animals, including weasels, squirrels, mice, cats and dogs.
Is Rat Bite Fever a Viral Infection?
Where Is Rat Bite Fever Most Common?
Although there were some cases of the illness registered in the USA, Africa, Europe and Australia, it mostly affects Asian regions. There, a specific bacteria Spirillum minor dominates, which is why the local illness is called Spirillosis, or Sodoku. It slightly differs from Streptobacillosis in its symptoms, and required longer cure.
Rat Bite Fever Symptoms in Humans
Depending on bacteria invading an organism, rat bite fever symptoms in humans may vary. Most widespread are:
- Inflammation around open wounds;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Headaches and muscle pain.
Streptobacillosis can also be accompanied by shivering, swelling and joint sore or reddening accompanied by pains in the back.
Symptoms of rat bite fever typical of Sodoku include ulcer around bite wound (if there is any), lymph nodes swelling, repeated fever.
In case of Haverhill fever (when bacteria are transmitted via contaminated foods and water), people experience vomiting, dizziness and sore throat.
Rat Bite Fever Blood Test
The diagnosis of the disease usually consists of medical tests. Blood, skin, or mucus samples are usually examined. If streptobacillary bacteria need to be defined, living organisms are cultivated and observed. When doctors suspect spirillary fever, testing is done by direct visualization of organisms in blood smears. Blood antibody tests are also required.
Side Effects of Rat Bite Fever
After rat bite, instant first aid is necessary. If left untreated, diseases can be lethal. Mortality rate for Sodoku is 13%, and for Streptobacillosis – 10%. But even if a person survives, disease ignorance may lead to serious consequences including:
- Heart and heart valve infections (myocarditis, pericarditis or endocarditis).
- Meningitis and other brain infections.
- Severe lung diseases (pneumonia).
- Abscesses of internal organs.
Bacteria may affect separate organs and body systems.
Rat Bite Fever in Babies
If a child or a small baby gets attacked by a rat, doctor’s help is required immediately. The disease is likely to affect a kid faster, and symptoms usually appear sooner. But they remind of flu symptoms, which is why sometimes treatment is started too late. In most cases, antibiotics are taken right away to decrease the risk of infection.
Rat Bite Fever Treatment
Both kinds of diseases are cured with penicillin and tetracyclines. As a rule, doctors prescribe taking it for 1-2 weeks to ensure total recovery. People with allergy to penicillin, alternative drugs are offered, such as ampicillin, cefotaxime, or cefuroxime. Children are given special Penicillin G during 7-10 days intravenously or in injections.
Amoxicillin For Rat Bite Fever
Amoxicillin is suitable for both people and pets, and also serves to prevent infection. It should be taken orally during 2-3 days after rat bite. An average dose is 100 mg/kg a day.
Rat Bite Fever in Dogs and Cats
A pet can be infected through the direct contact with infected pests (by scratches or bites), or by consuming foods and water containing the residues of urine or feces. Sometimes they have no signs of illness, but most often it results into swollen and painful joints and heart infections. Other symptoms may include nervousness, aggressiveness, or depressed state.
If a pet has been bitten by rats, the wound should be properly washed by cool water and cleansed with antiseptic solution. After that, veterinarian’s help is required soon. He will prescribe antibiotics and amoxicillin per oral for several days. It is highly important to start treating an animal as soon as possible, because it may also transmit infection.
Wounds should be washed with soap regularly, and some ointment against skin inflammation may be used to boost recovery process.
Rat Bite Fever Prevention
To protect your family from rat bites and infections, follow these recommendations:
- Avoid contacting with rats infesting your house. If possible, stop the infestation, or move out.
- Drink pasteurized milk only and water from safe sources. Do not consume water and foods that may have been contaminated by the pests.
- If you own a rat, check it for being ill via medical tests. When handling it, put protective gloves on and don’t forget to wash your hands with soap thoroughly. Do not touch your mouth with your hands after keeping or touching the animal or its cage.
- Do not let your pets contact with rats. If an animal has been bitten, or ingested a rat (whether dead or alive), contact a veterinarian immediately.
- If you or your pet has been scratched, or bitten by a rodent, cleanse the wound and apply antiseptic. After that, call a doctor.