A rare disease that is spread by infected rodents, rat-bite fever can be caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis bacteria or Spirillum minus bacteria. It typically is through urine contact, contact with mouth secretions, or eye or nose secretions. Most commonly, it is done through a bite. While rats are usually the source of the infection, gerbils, weasels and squirrels can pass it as well.
Preventing Rat-Bite Fever
Prevention can be as simple as avoiding rats and their dwellings. If you get bit by a rat, early antibiotics can help prevent it from becoming rat-bite fever.
Signs of rat-bite fever with Streptobacillus monilformis bacteria include rash, chills, fever, joint paint, swelling or redness. Symptoms of rat-bite fever with Spirillum minus include chills, rash, and an open sore at the bite site.
Some of the tests that can lead to a confirmation of rat-bite fever include blood antibody tests, polymerase chain reaction tests, and finding bacteria in the lymph nodes, joint fluid, blood or skin.
One to two weeks of oral antibiotics, typically penicillin or tetracyclines, is the standard treatment. There is a great prognosis for those that get treatment. However, untreated there can be a 25 percent death rate.
There are some complications that can occur from rat-bite fever, including pericarditis, abscesses of the soft tissue or brain, heart valve infection, inflammation of tendons, and inflammation of parotid glands.
Some of the alternate names for rat-bite fever include, spirillary fever, streptobacillary fever, streptobacillosis, epidemic arthritic erythema and haverhill fever.