Kissing pet rat puts woman in hospital

The 26-year-old woman presented to an Adelaide hospital with a severe headache and fever after three days of worsening symptoms, including nausea, photophobia and neck stiffness.

Initial diagnoses included bacterial sepsis, viral infection and autoimmune disease, and blood cultures were performed while the woman was treated in the intensive care unit for respiratory distress.

The bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis, which causes rat bite fever – a disease with a mortality rate of about 13% – was eventually detected in the cultures.

“Further history taking revealed that the patient owned two pet rats,” according to a paper published in the MJA.

“Although the animals had never bitten her, she had had close contact with her pets, including cuddling and kissing them.”

The woman, who also developed a distinctive rash on her limbs, made a full recovery after treatment