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Pet Rat to Blame for Child’s Death

ratEarlier this year, we had a rat in the house. No, not by choice — the cold weather forced one into our house, and for a week or so we could hear it in our wall.

Gross, right? Thankfully that rat didn’t last long in our house, because we have two cats. They not only alerted us to something in our walls, which we could have easily chalked off to regular ol’ house creaks, but Ariel held watch for days and when the rat let down his guard, she was there and instantly caught him.

When I think of rats — I think of pests that invade your house and make you feel all sorts of creeped out. I don’t see the desire to purposely have a rat in your house , but other people feel differently. According to Rat Assistance & Teaching Society, half a million households in the United States have rats — on purpose for pets.

The Pankey family from San Diego was one of those households — their 10-year old son, Aidan, owned two rats, one female and a new male bought as a companion to their existing rat. According to San Jose Mercury News, Aidan’s grandmother purchased the male rat from a local Petco and just over two weeks later, Aidan was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains and passed away, unexpectedly.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office were able to pinpoint why Aidan passed away so suddenly and ruled that the cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis infection — otherwise know as “rat-bite fever,” which he contacted from the recently purchased male rat.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rat-bite fever can be contracted through a bite, scratch, or even just handling a rodent already infection — which the purchased rat from Petco was found to have according to results from the federal Centers for Disease Control. The Pankey family has filed a lawsuit against the pet store claiming their neglegence in not testing the rodent before selling was the directly related to the 10-year old’s death.

I know that all animals and pets typically carry some risk for disease — I mean, even cats have the potential of spreading the sometimes harmful toxoplasmosis. I feel absolutely terrible for this family that their son is no longer with us — due to holding and loving a pet that made him happy.

:: Do you think pet rats are a good idea? Share in the comments! ::

Photo credit:  liftarn | Flickr
H/T: San Jose Mercury News

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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and four kids. Read more from  on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!

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