Rat-bite fever, as the title indicates, is a disease that may develop after a rat bite. Bites from squirrels, rats, weasels, and cats may often cause rat-bite fever, but not as often as rat bites. Rat-bite fever also creates a rash. This rash can be flat or have small bumps, and can range from red to purple in color. Sometimes, it looks like bruising. Rat-bite fever has two forms, and both are caused by specific bacteria. Streptobacillary rat-bite fever is the most common type in North America; while in Asia, spirillary rat-bite fever (also known as Sodoku) is more frequent. Rat bites aren’t really severe but people may get infected or develop a rat-bite fever.
How do People Get Affected with Rat-bite Fever?
People usually become infected with these bacteria once they contact the rats having the bacteria. A person may also get infected through food or water unhygienic with the urine or droppings of rats bearing the bacteria. This is called Haverhill fever. Rat-bite fever may be a serious or even deadly condition if not treated properly. Rats could probably spread more than 35 diseases which can infect both humans and animals around the world.
How is Rat-bite Fever Spread?
There are a number of ways that people can get a rat-bite fever,
• Bites and scratches from rats
• The bacteria enter the body through eyes, nose, mouth, or wounds
• Through the urine, saliva, and the droppings of rats
• The surfaces that are polluted with the bacteria
• Having the food or drinks that are infected with bacteria
• The fever will not spread from one person to another
Signs and Symptoms of Rat-bite Fever
Rat-bite fever can cause severe illness and death without early diagnosis and effective treatment. Besides, Rat-bite fever, many other illnesses may result from interaction with rats.
Rat-bite fever’s early signs may be close to those of other medical conditions. Rat-bite Fever’s signs also vary between the two forms of the disease, one is streptobacillary rat-bite fever and the other one is spirallary rat-bite fever (sodoku). About 1 in 10 people who have streptobacillary rat-bite fever infection may die.
Symptoms of streptobacillary rat-bite fever include:
• Muscle pain
• Joint pain or swelling
Symptoms usually start 3 to 10 days after bacterial contact but might be delayed for as long as 3 weeks. The rat bite or scratch wound that caused the infection has normally cured by this point.
A rash can occur on your hands and feet within 2 to 4 days after the fever begins. The rash tends to be smooth, reddish patches with slight bumps. Instead, one or more joints can get swollen, sore, or painful.
The symptoms which develop with Haverhill fever (the type of infection that may follow after having the contaminated food or water) are related to Streptobacillary rat-bite fever but might contain more severe sore throat and vomiting.
Difficulties of streptobacillary rat-bite fever can include:
• Infections of the liver
• Infections in the lungs
• Infections in the brain
• Infections in the heart
• Infections in the abdomen
Symptoms and signs of spirillary rat-bite fever (sodoku) often consist of:
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Rashes in the skin
These symptoms typically take place 7-21 days after exposure to the bacteria. If you experience any of the symptoms of Rat-bite fever after contact with rats or any other animals, contact your health care provider without delay. Ensure that you have explained how you had contact and the symptoms that you have now.
People at Higher Risk for Rat-bite Fever
Anyone who comes into interaction with the rat-bite fever causing bacteria is at risk of becoming ill with the disease. Remember rat-bite fever will lead to death and other deadly conditions. Persons at higher risk for rat-bite fever infection can comprise:
• Children who have contact with the bacteria
• People who live along with rats at their homes
• People who are bitten by a rat or a specific animal
• People who work with rats like at animal research laboratories or pet stores
Children who are five years old or below five are prone to bacterial infection since their immune system has not yet developed completely. They are not fully aware of personal hygiene. So, they might keep their dirty fingers in their mouth and pollute the regular household items.
Adults who are sixty-five years old, pregnant women, people with a weak immune systems, people who are under medications already will also get infected with the bacteria.
Treatment for Rat-bite Fever
After getting in contact with rats or other animals, if you develop any of the signs and symptoms of Rat Bite Fever, contact a health care provider straight away. Be sure to report your contact with rodents to your provider.
When the doctor thinks you have a rat-bite fever, he or she might be using medications to help you. When treatment is begun shortly after you get ill, antibiotics will be very efficient at treating the illness. It is essential that you follow the directions of your doctor on how to take your antibiotics, and that you take all the medicine your doctor prescribes, even if the condition of your health starts getting better.
Research on the efficacy of particular antibiotics is limited to the treatment of rat-bite fever. Anyway, S. Moniliformis is commonly prone to a range of antibiotics including:
Intravenous penicillin G prescribed for 7 days or longer, then oral penicillin is typically suggested for rat-bite fever diagnosis. Patients, however, can experience Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions which may worsen the treatment of penicillin. When antibiotics are initiated, patients typically recover quickly. The death rate is around 10 percent without proper care.
Doxycycline or streptomycin is an alternative method in patients allergic to penicillin.
Many rash infections, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), maybe close to rat-bite fever. For both rat-bite fever and rocky mountain spotted fever is treated differently, doxycycline will be regarded as first-line therapy provided the need for immediate care and limited testing for both diseases. This concern extends to young children below the age of 8 because there is little chance of oral staining by using doxycycline for longer than 14 days.
Endocarditis is an uncommon condition that needs combined therapy with both intravenous penicillin G or streptomycin or gentamicin for effective treatment, but this is dependent on older research and no new trials have been performed to determine the efficacy of combination therapy. But rat-bite fever may cause major illness and death without early diagnosis and proper treatment.
Prevention of Rat-bite Fever
By avoiding direct contact with rodents, places with rat outbreaks, or other areas where rats could be present, you can reduce your risk of being infected with rat-bite fever and other rodent diseases.
If you work in a pet store, laboratory, or animal research center, then,
• Wear proper protective laboratory gloves.
• Follow suitable safety measures.
• Avoid touching your mouth and face after treating rats.
• Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds after touching rats, containers, urine, or droppings.
When you develop rat-bite fever signs and symptoms,
Clean the wound immediately with soap and warm water if you are bitten or scraped. Contact a health care provider and report your recent injury to the provider. Remember rat-bite fever may cause serious illness and death without early diagnosis and medical assistance.
When you experience some of the rat-bite fever’s signs and symptoms, even though you didn’t get a bite or scrape, call a health care professional instantly to inform the doctor of your contact with the rats.
Rats will not be suitable in your home, classroom, or child-care center as pets or feeder animals. It is especially relevant if you have babies, small children, pregnant women, or individuals with weakened immune systems in your household or organization. The aged and individuals with conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer involve those with weak immune systems.
There are actually no experimental studies capable of determining exactly whether or not an animal is diagnosed with S. moniliformis or S. minus. Even there is no evidence encouraging the usage of antibiotics to get rid of any S. Moniliformis or S.minus In species bearing these bacteria.
Exceptional cases and Haverhill Fever outbreaks can occur when people eat food or drink infected with rat droppings or urine containing the bacteria. It’s significant to remember that polluted sources of food and drink that look and smell natural.
The measure to prevent pollution is to reduce rat infestations and hold domestic animals out of kitchens and other places where food and drink are cooked, served, or eaten.
Rats may bear the bacteria causing rat-bite fever without featuring any symptoms of the disease. In addition to rat-bite fever, many other illnesses may result from interaction with rats.
Other Health Risks Posed by Rats
Hanta Virus – It is a deadly disease that is spread through urine, droppings of infected rodents. The aerosolized virus will transmit the disease when humans breathe in.
Bubonic Plague – Plague is a severe human illness caused by a fungus called Yersinia pestis. It is normally activated by a flea bite that has been feeding on an infected animal such as a mouse, or a dog. This normally creates severe sores in the arms and leg glands. Dogs may also become sick, most particularly cats, and may transmit the disease to their human companions. Plague is curable with antibiotics.
Salmonellosis – Salmonellosis is a sort of food poisoning that is caused by rat waste, in particular by eating infected food. The disease causes a typhoid sort of health issue. The signs include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and nausea. It lasts up to seven days and affects the elderly, young people with a weak immune system.
Murine Typhus – Rats infected with fleas spread this disease. Travelers who happen to be in buildings, homes, harbors, and other areas with more infected rats could be at risk for exposure to murine typhus.
Leptospirosis – Bacterial disease affects both humans and animals. The common symptoms are headache, jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, and rash. If the disease is not treated well, then it leads to kidney damage, respiratory problem, and liver damage. Death takes place rarely.
Rickettsialpox – Originally found in rats, the bacteria cause infection of the mites. When humans receive a scratch from an infected mite, they can get rickettsialpox, not from the rats themselves. The first sign is a bump created by the bite which gradually leads to a dark blister. Some of the signs, including nausea, chills, fatigue, and achy joints, but the most noticeable sign is the rash that bursts out, spreading the whole body of the affected person.
1. How long does rat-bite fever last?
Bites causing streptobacillary rat-bite fever usually cure pretty fast. Moreover, you can develop signs like joint pain, headache, swelling, skin rash, vomiting, chills, and fever within three to ten days in certain cases.
2. Is rat-bite fever dangerous?
Rat-bite fever can lead to severe complications without appropriate treatment. It includes pneumonia, meningitis, heart infection, and blood infection which lead to death in 7-10 percent of cases.
3. Is rat-bite fever curable?
If you develop any of the signs and symptoms of rat-bite fever, after getting in contact with rats or other animals, contact a health care provider without delay. When medication is initiated shortly after you get ill, then antibiotics will be very successful at treating the illness.
4. How can we prevent rat-bite fever?
When you work in a pet store dealing with rats especially,
• Don’t touch your face and mouth
• Wear gloves as a protective device
• Clean your hands with soap and warm water
5. Is there any vaccine for rat-bite fever?
Antibiotics including cephalosporins or penicillinase-resistant penicillins are generally suitable for the treatment of infectious rat-bite complications. Also, immunization against tetanus and rabies confirmed is, though rabies after a rat bite is very rare.