St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Rat-bite fever

    Streptobacillary fever; Streptobacillosis; Haverhill fever; Epidemic arthritic erythema; Spirillary fever; Sodoku

    Rat-bite fever is a rare disease spread by infected rodents.

    Causes

    Rat-bite fever can be caused by two different bacteria, Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minus, both of which are found in the mouths of rodents.

    The disease is most oftenseen in:

    • Asia
    • Europe
    • North America

    Most people get rat-bite fever through contact with urine or secretions from the mouth, eye, or nose of an infected animal. This most commonly occurs though a bite, yet some cases may occur simply through contact with these secretions.

    The source of the infection is usually a rat. Other animals that may cause infection include squirrels, weasels, and gerbils.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms depend on the bacteria that caused the infection.

    Symptoms due to Streptobacillus moniliformis may include:

    • Chills
    • Fever
    • Joint pain, redness, or swelling
    • Rash

    Symptoms due to Spirillum minus may include:

    • Chills
    • Fever
    • Open sore at the site of the bite
    • Rash -- may be red/purple plaques
    • Swollen lymph nodes near the bite

    Exams and Tests

    This condition is diagnosed by detecting the bacteria in skin, blood, joint fluid, or lymph nodes. Blood antibody tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques may also be used.

    Treatment

    Rat-bite fever is treated with antibiotics. Your health care provider may prescribe penicillin or tetracyclines for 7 - 14 days.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    The outlook is excellent with early treatment. Untreated, the death rate can be as high as 25%.

    Possible Complications

    • Abscesses of the brain or soft tissue
    • Infection of the heart valves
    • Inflammation of the parotid glands (parotitis)
    • Inflammation of the tendons (tenosynovitis)
    • Pericarditis

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if:

    • You or your child has had recent contact with a rat or other rodent
    • The person who was bitten has symptoms of rat-bite fever

    Prevention

    Avoiding contact with rats or rat-contaminated dwellings may help prevent rat-bite fever. Taking antibiotics by mouth after a rat bite may also help prevent this illness.

    References

    Washburn RG. Rat-bite fever: Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 231.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Talking to your MD

              Self Care

                Tests for Rat-bite fever

                  Review Date: 10/6/2012

                  Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

                  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
                  adam.com

                  A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


                  Back  |  Top
                  About Us
                  Contact Us
                  History
                  Mission
                  Locations & Directions
                  Quality Reports
                  Annual Reports
                  Honors & Awards
                  Community Health Needs
                  Assessment

                  Newsroom
                  Services
                  Brain & Spine
                  Cancer
                  Heart
                  Maternity
                  Orthopedics
                  Pulmonary
                  Sleep Medicine
                  Urgent Care
                  Women's Services
                  All Services
                  Patients & Visitors
                  Locations & Directions
                  Find a Physician
                  Tour St. Luke's
                  Patient & Visitor Information
                  Contact Us
                  Payment Options
                  Financial Assistance
                  Send a Card
                  Mammogram Appointments
                  Health Tools
                  My Personal Health
                  mystlukes
                  Spirit of Women
                  Health Information & Tools
                  Clinical Trials
                  Health Risk Assessments
                  Employer Programs -
                  Passport to Wellness

                  Classes & Events
                  Classes & Events
                  Spirit of Women
                  Donate & Volunteer
                  Giving Opportunities
                  Volunteer
                  Physicians & Employees
                  For Physicians
                  Remote Access
                  Medical Residency Information
                  Pharmacy Residency Information
                  Physician CPOE Training
                  Careers
                  Careers
                  St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
                  Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile