Skip to content

RAT BITE- …Could be deadlier than you thought.

RAT BITE FEVER is a deadly disease which occurs following a bite by a rat which has been infected by Streptobaccilus moniliformis or Spirillum minus.

Other animals that can transmit these infectious organisms are dogs, cats and pigs. However, Streptobaccilus moniliformis can also be transmitted by consumption of unpastuerised milk.



Streptobacillary fever (Haverhill fever): Following the bite of a rat, the fever starts with associated nausea, vomiting, headache and body pain. The fever abates after a few day only to return with higher body temperature. Within five days of illness, rash- maculopapular develop. The rash usually involves the sole of the foot and palm. There is arthritis as well.

In Spillary fever (Sodoku), the fever is recurrent and accompanied by nausea, vomiting and headache. A roseolar-urticarial rash may occur but arthritis is rare. There is swelling or formation of ulcer at the site of bite and swollen lymph node.



Diagnosis is confirmed after blood or joint fluid culture is positive of either of the organisms.

Clinically, the diagnosis requires high level of suspicion by your doctor because the site of bite is often healed before the fever starts.



See your doctor immediately if you have any of the above symptoms after bite or contact with rats or domestic animals. If appropriate treatment is not started on time, rat bite fever can cause severe disease and death.

Drugs of choice include: Penicillin G, Ampicillin, Tetracycline, Streptomycin or Chloramphenicol



  • AVOID touching your mouth and face after handling rodent.
  • WASH your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after handling rodents, their cage, bedding, urine or droppings.



  • A compendium of clinical Medicine by A.O. Falase and O.O. Akinkugbe.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

IMAGE CREDIT: google images