A 8-year-old girl from Southern California is recovering from a bacterial infection called rat-bite fever, something she likely contracted via her pet rat’s saliva.
The girl named Cali was treated at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, according to a CBS-8 report.
Her mom said that Cali came down with high fever and a horrible painful rash all over her body the Friday before last. By Sunday, she could barely use her arms and legs.
She has two pet rats, which hospital officials believe are the source of the serious infection. She contracted the disease when the rat’s saliva came into contact with an open wound. Cali has eczema on her fingers which may have contributed to the situation, a doctor said.
Cali was treated with antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery.
“Rat-bite fever” is a general term to describe two relatively rare bacterial infections: Streptobacillus moniliformis, also known as Haverhill fever, and Spirillum minor, also known as Sodoku.
Both bacteria are normal or commensal organisms found in rats and to a lesser extent other rodents and mammals.
These infections are found worldwide, but seen most commonly in Asia and Africa.
The bacteria are found in the oral and nasal secretions of the infected rat. It can also be found in the rat’s urine.
Transmission to people is most frequently the result of a rat bite. The bacteria can also enter the body through open skin, such as cuts or scrapes, or mucous membranes such as in the eyes, nose, or mouth.
People who work or live in rat-infested buildings are also at risk and it has been transmitted through contaminated water and milk.
After about a week after being exposed, there is an abrupt onset of chills, fever, headache and muscle pains.
With S. moniliformis, a rash on the extremities appears after a few days. Arthritic symptoms may also be present.
On the other hand, with S. minor, an ulcerated lesion at the bite site is typical andsymptoms of arthritis are rare.
Untreated cases can be fatal in up to 10% of cases. Endocarditis, pericarditis and abscesses of the brain are complications of untreated rat-bite fever.
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