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Rat Bite Fever

Urban areas are known for dense populations of rats. We just never really see them. They’re nocturnal and good at hiding. Don’t be fooled if you only spot one. There’s always more. Rats are looking for places to nest and reproduce at an alarming rate. Keep your home clean to help prevent rat infestations. Removing their food sources is the best way to reduce rodent contact. Because with rats comes disease. Their urine and feces can contaminate your home. Also, more rats mean a greater chance of contact. Rat bite fever is mostly transmitted through close encounters with rodents.

A nest of baby rats in insulation

What is rat bite fever?

It’s an acute, febrile human illness produced by bacteria found in rodents. Commonly, it’s transmitted from rat to human through the rodent’s urine or mucous. Most cases are diagnosed after exposure to urine or saliva of an infected animal. Rat urine and feces can contaminate water and food supplies. The majority of rat bite fever cases are developed after the rodent bites a human. Your pets can also carry the disease and infect humans.

Japan has the highest number of infected. But, specific strains of the virus have been found in Canada, United States and Australia. Rat bite fever is a rare disease spread by infected rodents cause by two specific types of bacteria.


This is the most rare strain of rat bite fever. It is most often found in Asia and referred to as sodoku in Japan. In most cases symptoms don’t manifest for two to four weeks. The bite wound heals slower and shows inflammation. The fever lasts longer and recurs over months. It’s usually treated with penicillin.


Its alternative names are Haverhill fever and epidemic arthritic erythema. This is a severe disease caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis transmitted through rat bites or ingestion of contaminated substances. After incubating for 2 to 10 days the fever starts with high prostrating fevers, shivers, headache and joint pain. After this a widespread rash will develop. The bacteria can grow in blood or articular fluid. Some cases are fatal if they’re untreated.


Symptoms are different depending on the type of rat bite fever and the person infected.

  • Inflammation around open sore.
  • A red and purple rash around the area.
  • Chills, fever, vomiting, head and muscle aches.
  • Joints are painfully swollen.
  • Skin irritations such as ulcers.
  • Wounds heal slowly.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Symptoms usually begin showing within 2 to 10 days after contact with rodent. It begins with the fever and progresses to rashes over the body. Half of all cases are found in children under 12 years old.

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About the author:Founder of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control in 1989. Canada's largest urban wildlife removal and exclusion company. Industry leader and pioneer. Split, Scram, Scoot! However you want to say it, Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control has helped over 200,000 home owners and businesses safely and effectively resolve their wildlife issues. Happy to discuss business and franchising opportunities

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