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Petco lawsuit: Boy dies from rat-bite fever after getting pet rat from Petco

Petco lawsuit: Parents file lawsuit against Petco after their son dies from rat-bite fever contracted from a pet rat that they purchased at Petco.
Petco lawsuit: Parents file lawsuit against Petco after their son dies from rat-bite fever contracted from a pet rat that they purchased at Petco.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A Petco lawsuit was filed after the death of a 10-year-old boy, who died after contracting the rare disease called rat-bite fever. The lawsuit claims that the boy’s grandmother bought him a pet rat at Petco, which turned out to be a carrier of the rat-bite fever. The coroner's report states that the boy's cause of death was from the infection commonly called rat-bite fever.

According to Fox News on Feb. 25, the rat was purchased at Petco on May 27, 2013 and 10-year-old Aidan Pankey started with serve symptoms on June 11. He woke up in unbearable pain and he spiked a fever. He had stomach pains and he was lethargic and could barely walk, with these symptoms coming on suddenly. Aidan died at 1:09 a.m. the next day.

The San Diego County Medical examiner’s office ruled that Aiden’s cause of death was streptobacillus moniliformis infection, which is commonly known as rat-bite fever. This infection is caused by exposure to an infected rat.

This infection is extremely rare with only 200 cases of rat-bite fever reported in the U.S. up to the year 2004, according to Fox. Rat-bite fever is not easy to diagnosis and doctors believe that more cases could have gone undiagnosed.

You do not need to be bitten by a rat to contract the disease. You can get the disease from a scratch from an infected rodent or just by handling a rodent carrying the rat-bite fever infection. Other rodents, such as mice and gerbils also carry the disease. The disease is treatable and it is rarely fatal. A course of antibiotics usually cures rat-bite fever in humans.

The Pankey family’s lawsuit was just recently filed because they were waiting for the CDC’s test results on the rat to come back before filing. Since the test is back, the Plankey’s have filed this suit claiming that Petco had some “breakdown in procedures” when it came to making sure the rodent was disease free before selling it. The lawsuit is asking for “tighter controls” around future rodent purchases.

The rodent appeared healthy the entire time it was with Aiden. This was his second rat, he already had a female rat and Aiden wanted another rat as a companion for his pet.

The boy’s parents, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer are suing for emotional and economic hardship. They have also stated in the lawsuit that Petco did not post warnings about the potential risks of rat-bite fever, especially for kids.

Most of all Aiden’s family wants to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, according to their lawyer, Attorney John Gomez. Aiden died on June`12, 2013, this was just hours after he was rushed to the hospital after waking up with the severe symptoms that rat-bite fever causes.