rat-bite fever signs

ROSAPHILIA (rugosa@interport.net)
Sun, 15 Feb 1998 19:20:15 +0000


       Pets Can Carry Rat-Bite Fever

       NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Pet cats and dogs, as well as wild
       animals such as rats, mice, and squirrels can carry a rare
       bacterial infection -- rat-bite fever -- which can be fatal to
       humans if left untreated. In Friday's issue of the Morbidity
       and Mortality Weekly Report issued by the US Centers for
       Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. W.M. Ryan and
       others describe the case of two boys in New Mexico who
       developed rat-bite fever after being licked by a pet dog and
       drinking water from a ditch.

       ``People get rat-bite fever from the bite or scratch of an
       infected rodent or by ingestion of food or water
       contaminated with rat feces,'' explain CDC editors in a
       statement. ``Cases of rat-bite fever also have been
       associated with the bites of mice, squirrels, and gerbils, as
       well as exposure to the animals that prey on those rodents,
       including cats and dogs.''

       ``Children and adults should never touch rodents in the wild,
       be advised of the dangers of handling rodents, and avoid
       surface waters that could be contaminated with rat feces,''
       advise the CDC.

       Symptoms of the infection appear between 2 and 10 days
       after the animal bite or contact. Rat-bite fever can cause
       relapsing fever, headache, painful joints, and a rash on the
       palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Other symptoms
       include muscle pain, anemia, meningitis, and heart
       complications such as endocarditis. Most patients recover
       within two weeks without treatment, but about 13% of
       reported cases are fatal. The infection responds to treatment
       with antibiotics such as penicillin or tetracycline.

       Rat-bite fever is caused by a bacteria called Streptobacillus
       moniliformis. The infection ``can be diagnosed by blood
       culture only,'' write the CDC editors, ``and the organism is
       characterized by strict growth requirements and slow growth,
       making it difficult for most laboratories to culture.''

       While rat-bite fever is rare, ``accurate data about incidence
       rates are unavailable because the disease is not reportable in
       any state,'' according to the report.

       SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
       (1998;47;89-91)

       Reut11:43 02-13-98

       (13 Feb 1998 11:43 EST)


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