Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: rats

Rat bite fever death

Posted in Reptiles
A recent rat bite fever death in a six-month-old Pennsylvania baby raises several issues that parents need to consider. The child died of meningitis and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus moniliformis. This bacterium is present in the mouths of virtually all rats, and is the cause of rat bite fever.… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever…who’s to blame?

Posted in Pocket pets
A couple months ago, I wrote about a family suing PetsMart over a case of rat bite fever in a child. Now, a San Diego family is suing PetCo after their ten-year-old son died of the same infection.  Rat bite fever is a bacterial infection caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis, and it is almost always associated… Continue Reading

Feeder rodent Salmonella alert, Ontario

Posted in Pocket pets
A local county newspaper had a front page headline about a zoning amendment that was approved to allow for a feeder rodent facility that will produce about 10 000 rodents a week (I know, apparently there aren’t a lot of big things happen around here). Co-incidentally, a couple days later, I received an alert and fact… Continue Reading

MRSP in urban rats

Posted in Other animals
A year or two ago, I received an email from Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, who was doing some interesting work looking at different bacteria found in rats in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is an impoverished urban neighbourhood with lots of homeless people, IV drug users and HIV-infected individuals… and lots of rats. Dr. Himsworth, a veterinary pathologist working… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever in a person with HIV/AIDS

Posted in Pocket pets
A recent report in the journal Infection (Chean et al. 2012) describes rat bite fever in a patient with AIDS. I’ve written about rat bite fever before, and it’s not really a surprising case report. Streptobacillus moniliformis, the bug that causes the disease, is found in the mouths of most rats (and in the mouths… Continue Reading

Boy Scouts not so prepared this time

Posted in Other animals
Earlier this year, a troop of Boy Scouts in the US beat off a rabid beaver that was attacking their leader (I wonder if there’s a badge for that). Boy Scouts and infectious diseases are in the news again, but not with as happy a story. In the recent incident reported on ProMED, ten Boy… Continue Reading

LCMV in rodent facility workers

Posted in Pocket pets
I’ve written about lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) before, as an interesting but pretty uncommon rodent-associated disease. Human infections are mainly associated with handling  rodents, although other routes of transmission, such as organ transplantation from an infected donor, have also been reported. Being a disease associated with rodents and considering how rodents are produced in North… Continue Reading

Plague from pet cat

Posted in Cats
Plague cases tend to get a lot of press. The fact that this disease killed a large percentage of the human population in a few different pandemics (albeit centuries ago for the most part) probably plays a role in that. Despite the impression by some that it’s just a historical disease, plague is alive and… Continue Reading

Elementary school reptile club: good, bad or ugly

Posted in Reptiles
Today’s Toronto Star has an article about a reptile club in a Toronto Elementary School. Teacher Jim Karkavitsas runs a session every day that teaches students about a range of reptiles. His menagerie has expanded from one snake five years ago to more than 40 different species in his classroom. Some are loaned out to… Continue Reading

The outbreak that won’t go away

Posted in Pocket pets
The CDC is investigating CDC is investigating more cases of salmonellosis associated with feeder rodent contact, caused by the less-than-catchy-named Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-. This strain is the same one that was implicated in a large and prolonged outbreak in the US and UK in 2009-2010 which was also associated with frozen feeder rodents (rodents sold… Continue Reading

Another rat bite fever warning

Posted in Pocket pets
A case report in the Medical Journal of Australia (Pananicolas et al 2012) describes a case of rat bite fever and comes with the typical warning about this uncommon but concerning disease. Rat bite fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus moniliformis (the main cause in most countries) or Spirillum minus (the main… Continue Reading

Pediatrician says kids shouldn’t have rats

Posted in Pocket pets
A Montreal pediatrics resident has expressed concern about rat bite fever in kids. Dr. Karine Khatchadourian described three cases of this bacterial infection in a paper called "The rise of the rats: a growing paediatric issue," published last year in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health. The article didn’t really present any evidence that this… Continue Reading

Cowpox in a dog

Posted in Dogs
Cowpox virus is an example of a virus with a misleading name. It’s place in history is from Jenner’s observation that milkmaids who had been infected with cowpox were resistant to smallpox, leading to the use of cowpox (which causes very mild disease) to protect against smallpox (which is very, very bad). While cattle can… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever leads to pet store lawsuit

Posted in Pocket pets
A Phoenix, Arizona man is suing a pet store after he contracted rat bite fever from a rat he had purchased. It’s not surprising to see a lawsuit following a serious illness, considering people in the US often try to sue for just about anything, but I’m not sure it won’t get very far. I don’t… Continue Reading

Rabid rat attack

Posted in Pocket pets, Rabies
Cab drivers have to put up with a lot of risks, but attacks from marauding rats probably aren’t high on their list of concerns. However, a Ukrainian cab driver was recently attacked by a rat, and the rat was subsequently killed and found to be positive for rabies. The cab driver is now undergoing post-exposure… Continue Reading

Weil’s disease from a pet rat

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
A recent edition of the Veterinary Record contains a case report of Weil’s disease in a person that adopted a feral (wild) rat (Strugnell et al, 2009). Weil’s disease is a severe disease of the kidneys, liver and other body systems that can develop after acute leptospirosis (infection by Leptospira bacteria). This group of bacteria… Continue Reading

Rat bite fever

Posted in Other diseases, Pocket pets
Rats can be really interesting pets. They can be quite social and are interesting to watch. Being larger than hamsters and gerbils, they can also be more easily and safely handled. They can still bite, however, particularly if they are not properly socialized and/or they are handled by people who don’t know how to do… Continue Reading