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Family sues Petco after son dies from rat bite

Aiden Pankey
Aiden PankeyFamily photo

The parents of 10-year-old Aidan Pankey are suing the pet store Petco after their son died from a rat-bite infection.

The pet rat was purchased to be a companion for the pet rat the boy already owned. Three weeks after he got the rat he woke up in severe pain with a fever, stomach issues, and was pale, lethargic and could barely walk as reported by ABC news on Wednesday.

The youngster was taken to hospital but died hours later from a condition called streptobacillus moniliformis infection, commonly known as rat bite fever. The CDC says rat-bite fever (RBF) is an infectious disease that can be caused by two different bacteria. People usually get the disease from infected rodents or consumption of contaminated food or water. When the latter occurs, the disease is often known as Haverhill fever. If not treated, RBF can be a serious or even fatal disease

John Gomez, the attorney for Aidan's family, says, "He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid ... who had this idea in his young head that his female rat would get married."

A spokesman for Petco said it was "deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss" and was investigating the claims.

The boy's parents, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer, claim Petco should have known about the rat's health and failed to adequately test for disease.

They say negligence led to Aidan's death and allege the retailer did not display adequate warnings about the potential risks, especially for children.

The family's attorney, John Gomez, said the lawsuit was "a means to ensure this doesn't happen again".

If you or your children get bit or scratched from a rodent such as rats, mice or gerbils, make sure to see your doctor. Typically antibiotics will help prevent infection from occurring.