Disease Name

Rat Bite Fever

Vector Information

Rat bite fever (RBF) in the US is caused by the bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minus. These bacteria are transmitted to people through bites or scratches from infected rodents, handling infected rodents, or consuming contaminated food or drink. Rat bite fever is a preventable disease through avoiding rat bites, practicing good hand washing techniques, avoiding contact with rodents and using protective gloves when cleaning rodent cages. . 

Symptoms of the RBF is dependent on the type of bacterial infection. Streptobacillary RBF symptoms include: chills, fever, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and rash. Spirillary RBF symptoms include” fever, development of an ulcer at the bite wound, swelling near the wound, swollen lymph nodes, and rash. Streptobacillary RBF symptoms typically occurs 3 to 10 days after exposure, but can be as long as three weeks. Within 2 to 4 days after fever onset, an identifiable rash that is flat, red areas with small bumps may appear on the hands and feet. Spirillary RBF symptoms usually occur 7-21 days after exposure to an infected rodent. Diagnosis of rat bite fever is made by a healthcare practitioner who will use clinical symptoms and history of possible exposure to diagnose. Rat bite fever is treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, rat bite fever can be fatal. Severe infections can involve the heart, brain, lungs, or other internal organs. There are no preventative medications or vaccines.