Hi Emily. Very worried mom over here! We have a pet hairless rat which we have had for 8 mo. now. I heard of the recent news of the 6 yr. old from CA who died a few weeks after getting a rat from Petco.
Seeing that we have had our rat for 8 mo. now and we've kissed it; it's scratched us; I clean it's cage without glove etc... is it safe to say that our rat does not carry the bacteria that cause this or we would've been sick by now? Also, does the rat have to be a carrier from day one or can your rat contract this bacteria even if she's by herself in her cage?
I'm really hoping you can give me some answers to calm my fears. I have young children and I'm very concerned.
Thank you in advance. -Day
I am not a vet so I can't really give you detail about this "new" disease.
However I can give you my opinion.
For thousands upon thousands of years humans have lives with rats. Black Death being the most severe case of rats causing people I'll via the fleas on them.
However, why is it that no one has ever made the rat bite fever public? Probably because it's not as common or severe. Not to mention the fact that the rat came from a big name company. Now, this doesn't mean that rat note fever isn't something to worry with. It can obviously be deadly but you don't hear often enough about it to know HOW deadly. I have only heard of this one incident. Now, more people have been bitten by WILD rats many times and most have had no issues. Pets rats don't typically bite unless threatened or uncomfortable.
Also, this rat bite fever is a bacterial infection. This means that a bite is not the only way to contract it. Scratches even can cause it.
I have 30+ rats babies included ,all kept clean and healthy. My advise is to NEVER but from a pet store because THEY don't breed the animals themselves. They buy from companies with hundreds of rats breeding, urinating and dedicating on each other. Not a healthy situation. Breeders are you best bet or adoption.
I have been bitten many times, scratched a million times. I'm fine. I recommend being cautious and maybe monitor your child's play time with the rat.
Sorry I can't offer more information.
Try not to stress mom.