Fatal Rat Bite Fever in A Pet Shop Employee

Steve Shvartsblat, Mary Kochie, Philip Harber, John Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Rat bite fever is a zoonotic disease that has been described in laboratory personnel as well as the general population. Methods: A 24-year-old male per shop employee contracted the disease through a minor superficial finger wo¿md on a contaminated rat cage. The disease progressed from a flu-like illness to endocarditis involving-first the aortic valve and then the mitral valve and septum. Despite aggressive therapy including two surgical procedures, the patient died from sepsis and multi-organ system failue 59 days after initial injury. Results: This is the first reported case of rat-bite fever (RBF) in a per shop work setting. Conclusions: Zoonotic infections may present a significant hazard to workers handling animals. Education on hazards of animal contact and other preventive measures are needed in small places of business like per shops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-360
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Endocarditis
  • Pet stores
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Streptobaccillus moniliformis
  • Zoonotic infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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