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Infected rat kills boy, family sues Petco for negligence

A San Diego family is still mourning the tragic death of their 10-year-old son who they say died from an infected rat they purchased from Petco. According to a Feb. 26 report from the Associated Press via ABC News, the family has now filed a lawsuit for the pain and suffering they endured from the sudden death of their son, Aidan, who died last summer.

The family's attorney, John Gomez, told The Associated Press that Petco should have done more to prevent the sale of an infected rat to a customer.

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When asked for details of the infected rat lawsuit, Hamilton Arendsen of Gomez Trial Attorneys said: "Clearly there were not sufficient safety procedures in place at Petco when they sold this rat."

According to the report, Aidan became extremely sick on a Monday, two weeks after the family bought the infected rat, which they had named Alex. The boy complained of severe stomach pains and he also had an extremely high fever.

The lawsuit says that he was pale, lethargic and could barely walk. On June 12, 2013 he was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at 1:09 a.m. the following day.

"One of the things he loved most, his rat, ended up in him dying because the rat we bought, we found out later, had Rat-bite fever," Aidan's grandmother, Sharon Pankey, told media sources.

Initially, the family didn't suspect that the infected rat played a role in the boy's death. However, after the rat was sent to the CDC, the rodent tested positive for Rat-bite fever.

"We didn't know why for a couple of months," Sharon said.

Furthermore, the medical examiner confirmed that the infected rat was the reason for the boy's untimely passing after he ruled that the cause of death was indeed streptobacillus moniliformis infection, a.k.a. as rat-bite fever, after being exposed to an infected rat.

"He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid who actually had a prior rat, who was a female, and he had this idea in his young head of having his female rat get married," Gomez said.

Petco issued a statement regarding the boy's death from the infected rat and it read:

"We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss. The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family's concerns very seriously."

Rat-bite fever is an acute, febrile human illness caused by bacteria transmitted by rodents, rats or mice in most cases, which is passed from rodent to human via the rodent's urine or mucous secretions. It is a rare disease spread by infected rodents and can be caused by two specific types of bacteria. Most cases occur in Japan, but specific strains of the disease are present in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Some cases are diagnosed after patients were exposed to the urine or bodily secretions of an infected rat, Wikipedia writes.

Do you think Petco should pay up for selling the family an infected rat? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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