Are Rat Bites Harmful? – The Dangers of Rat Bite Fever

Rats have large teeth and can deliver painful bites when they are threatened. Although rat bites are relatively rare, it can still be very dangerous. The saliva of some rat species carries life-threatening diseases, such as leptospirosis and Hantavirus. There are also uncommon cases wherein the victim may suffer from rat-bite fever. In addition, the individual who was bitten by a rat is also more susceptible to tetanus infections.

What Is Rat Bite Fever?

Rat bites are not dry bites. They are known to transmit a wide variety of diseases to their victims. Rat-bite fever can result from such bites but it is an extremely rare case, especially in the United States. Rat-bite fever is a disease which is caused by two agents: Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus- which are found in the mouths of rodents. The disease can easily spread through the bite or scratch wound.

In some cases, the individual may also contract this disease through contact with the infected rat’s urine or droppings. The most common source of this disease is a rat, but other types of rodents, such as squirrels, gerbils, and weasels, can also cause the infection.

So, who are the most common victims of this infection? Since the infection is most commonly caused by wild rats, homeless people, farmers, sewage workers, and pest control workers are the most common victims. In addition, children are also more susceptible to the infection than adults.

Rat Bite Fever

Rat Bite Fever

Symptoms and Treatment For Rat-Bite Fever

Symptoms seen in victims may depend on the bacteria that caused the infection. Some of the symptoms seen in infected individuals include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Joint pains, swelling, redness
  • Rash on the hands and feet
  • Open sore at the bite area
  • Other complications depending on the organ system that is infected

If any of these symptoms is seen on the victim, it is vital to immediately take action. Rat-bite fever can be treated with antibiotics, such as penicillin. The doctor may prescribe penicillin or tetracyclines for one or two weeks. Additionally, if the infection has affected any of the organ system, or have caused organ damage, added treatment specific to the victim’s symptoms and illness must be given.

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First Aid Treatment For Rat Bites

Clean the rat bite or scratch. Clean the rat bite wound immediately. Wash the wound with warm water and antibacterial soap. You can also use alcohol.

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Prevent excessive bleeding. Bleeding due to rat bite is natural, but it is vital to prevent excess bleeding. To do so, you must use a clean towel and apply enough pressure on the wound.

Apply antibacterial cream. Use an antibacterial cream on the bite wound. There are also some ointments that offer pain relief. Another tip is to take an oral pain medication.

Bandage the wound. Put a clean bandage around the wound. The bandage must apply enough pressure to stop the bleeding, but be careful not to make it too tight so as to cut off the circulation.

Check for infection. It is vital to observe the wound and check for any developing infection. If you observe any developing rash or swelling, the bite wound might be infected. If you see any symptoms, soak the wound with epsom salt water at least three times a day. It is also advisable to wash the wound with antibacterial soap at least a few times within the day even if the wound isn’t infected.

If any of the serious symptoms start to manifest, immediately seek medical attention. It is advisable to have a medical professional check the wound and diagnose the problem to prevent worse problems from developing.

 

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