If we talk about diseases that are caused by animal, the first thing that might come to our mind is may be rabies. Yes, it is true that rabies is one of the most dangerous illnesses caused by animal. It has killed millions of people each year. However, it is not the only disease that can be spread by animal to human. There is another disease that is also can be dangerous if it is late to treat, called rat bite fever.
What is rat bite fever?
Rat bite fever is a rare disease that happens obviously because of the object or patient is getting in contact with infected rat directly, this will include being bitten or scratched. But it is not limited only to getting directly in contact with the rat, rat bite fever might also happen if a person is making contact with the rat’s excretion such as feces and urine.
There are two types of rat bites fever based on the types of bacteria causing the disease. The first one is rat bite fever caused by bacteria Streptobacillus Monilliformis and the second one is rat bite fever that is caused by bacteria Spirillum Minus.
Cases of the first type of rat bite fever usually found in America and the second type of rat bite fever or also known as Sodoku is mostly found in Asia.
There is also another form of rat bite fever known as Haverhill fever. This is a type of rat bite fever that is caused by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated with the same bacteria as the rat bite fever. The contamination process can occur because of the food or drink is contaminated through the rat’s urine. A person who is suffering from this type of rat bite fever will not have any history of making any contact with rat such as scratch or bitten.
Rat bite fever in animal
Not only infecting human being, rat bite fever could also affect other animal such as your dog or cat. Even though most of this animal will not suffer from the disease, but they might be actively act as carrier of the bacteria.
Just like the rat itself who actually has been infected with the bacteria, dogs, cat, and some other bigger warm blooded mammals will not suffer from these types of bacteria. However, if they have been infected, they will play the role of the carrier of these bacteria.
Some smaller animal such as mice, guinea pigs, and other non-human primates, this disease might create symptoms such as joint infection, swollen and reddened eyes, loss in appetite causing weight loss, pneumonia, swelling in the neck, and finally it will affect the animal’s heart.
Hence, prevent your pet to play or hunt rodent even though the dead ones to avoid your pet to become the carrier of rat bite fever.
Rat bite fever in human
Rat bite fever in human can have symptoms like a severe cold. Depending on the bacteria that infecting the human, the symptom can vary from one person to other as well as the incubation period.
Streptobacillus Monilliformis. If a person is infected with this type of bacteria through the rat bite, they can undergo rat bite fever symptoms that include fever, rash and polyarthritis.
The fever usually increase all of a sudden to 38-41 degree Celsius about 3 – 7 days after the person was being bitten and it can go back to normal about 5 days after the first day of fever but the fever might then occur again.
Once the fever might appear, the wound from the rat bite might has gone. So a person might be mistaken that he or she is not having a rat bite fever. Hence, even though the wound has gone, watch for rat bite fever even afterward.
Rash might also occurs in between the fever stage. This usually appears flat on the skin and can appear in 75% of people who get rat bite fever. This rash might be resolved slower than the fever.
For victims of rat bite that is infected with Spirillum Minus, they can feel a different type of symptoms in a different period of time. The incubation period of this type of bacteria can take place for about 14-18 days after the person was being bitten. It is slightly longer compared to the previous type of rat bite fever.
With Spirillum Minus, the rat bite might then form ulcerates and might leave a mark on the skin. Fever also will take place and it will feel relapsing and remitting. It is very rare to find a patient with joint pain if they are infected with this type of bacteria.
A typical rash also can be found in about 50% of people who are experiencing this type of rat bite fever.
Preventing rat bite fever and treatment
Prevention for rat bite fever is typically easy, as long as you don’t make any contact with rat or any rodent, it has decrease your probability to get rat bite fever.
Wearing glove if you have to clean a dead rat or its exposed area is also a good step to do. If you are scratched or bitten by a rat, cleaning your wound with running water and soap is very important to at least remove some bacteria that is contacting with you.
If you are experiencing the above symptoms after you were bitten by a rat, seeking for medical help is always recommended as you might need an antibiotic shot or other type of antibiotic medication.
There is a record of death following the case of rat bite fever, however, the percentage is very low as long as the treatment is prompt and right.