Rat-bite fever is an acute, febrile human illness caused by bacteria transmitted by rodents, in most cases, which is passed from rodent to human by the rodent's urine or mucous secretions. Alternative names for rat-bite fever include streptobacillary fever, streptobacillosis, spirillary fever, bogger, and epidemic arthritic erythema. The disease spread by infected rodents and can be caused by two specific types of bacteria.
Strains of the disease have been reported in the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan and Africa. Some cases are diagnosed after patients were exposed to the urine or bodily secretions of an infected Rodent or even the family pet. These secretions can come from the mouth, nose, or eyes of an infected rat. Not all cases are due to a bite from the animal as it can also be transmitted through food or water contaminated with rat feces or urine; however and with that said the majority of cases reported are due to bites. Other animals including household pets such as dogs, cats and gerbils exposed to these animals can also carry the disease and infect humans. If a person is bitten by a rodent, it is important to quickly wash and cleanse the wound area thoroughly with antiseptic solution and seek medical attention to reduce the risk of infection. If possible trap the rodent for testing.
RBF is not the only threat Rodents pose to humans below is a list of viruses normally seen in the Metroplex and surrounding areas:
● Bubonic Plague: The dreaded plague is less prevalent and deadly today, but still infects numerous people every year. This is normally spread through fleas on a rodent, but feces can also contain the plague. Symptoms include headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
● Hantavirus: Rodent urine and feces is the primary cause of the Hantavirus. Caused by the white-footed deer mouse, this virus is often seen when these mice are allowed to actively live in the same dwelling as their human counterparts. An infestation in an attic is a prime example of how the Hantavirus can be contracted, although humans don’t realize the mice are living in the home.
● Lassa Fever: A virus that is contracted through the breathing in of dust that is contaminated with feces or urine. This disease can also be contracted through touching the feces or bites and is spread by rats.
● Salmonellosis: Spread through rodent feces. Salmonellosis is a type of food poisoning that causes high fevers, abdominal pains and diarrhea.
As previously mentioned two specific types of Bactria result in Rat-bite fever; Spirillosis and Streptobacillosis.
The streptobacillosis form of rat-bite fever is commonly known as Haverhill fever and epidemic arthritic erythema. It is a severe disease transmitted by a rat bite or ingestion of contaminated products. After an incubation period of 2–10 days, fever begins with high prostrating fevers, rigors (shivering), headache, and joint pain. Followed by a widespread rash red/purple spots or red flat bumps. The organism can be cultivated in blood or articular fluid. The disease can be fatal if untreated in 20% of cases due to malignant endocarditis, meningoencephalitis, or septic shock.
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