Rat-bite fever is an uncommon bacterial infection transmitted by rodents such as mice, rats and gerbils as well as mammals such as weasels.
The condition spreads via animal bites and scratches, ingestion of food or water contaminated by animal wastes and handling of infected animals.
It is important to note that rats are the usual source of infection due to the higher incidence of interaction with rats.
What are the signs?
The symptoms that might arise is based on the type of rat-bite fever.
Steptobacillary rat-bite fever
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain, swelling or redness
- Skin rashes
Spiriallary rat-bite fever
- Recurring fever
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Formation of ulcers at the site of the bite
- Swelling around the wound
Management of rat-bite fever
Generally, antibiotics are given as the main form of treatment for rat-bite fever. In most cases, the following measures are carried out:
- Intravenous administration of penicillin for 7-10 days that is followed by the oral variant for 7 days.
- In some cases, tetracycline might also be used.
- Among those who are allergic to penicillin, tetracycline and streptomycin are used.
At the present, there are no available vaccines that can prevent rat-bite fever. The following precautions can be considered to lower the risk for rat-bite fever:
- A wound from a rodent must be cleansed with soap and water. Proper care must be carried out right away after being bit by a rodent.
- Exposure to rats and living in rat-infested dwellings must be avoided.
- Animal handlers, sanitation workers and laboratory workers must take the necessary precautions against potential exposure by using gloves and avoid touching both alive and dead wild rodents.
- House pets should not be allowed to catch rodents and eat them.