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San Diego boy dies from bite from pet rat; family sues

The family of a 10-year-old Santee boy who died after contracting rat-bite fever from a pet rat is suing the pet store that sold it to them.

Aiden Pankey
Pankey Family

Attorney John Gomez, told the LA Times on Wednesday that he filed the lawsuit on Friday after the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Aidan Pankey died from streptobacillus moniliformis, which is commonly known as rat-bite fever, on June 12, 2013.

The rat was sent to the CDC for testing and it came back as positive for rat-bite fever.

“The rat that killed Aidan appeared safe, but was in fact defective and dangerous and defendants failed to adequately warn of such dangers,” the lawsuit stated reports KTLA.

Rat-bite fever can be contracted from bites or scratches or from handling an infected animal. Penicillin is the normal treatment.

The lawsuit states that Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. is libel and negligent for not testing the rat for infection. The rat was purchased from the Petco in Carmel Valley last year by the boy's grandmother.

Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., said it was "in the process of investigating these claims and will respond appropriately when we have more information."

In a statement published by the LA Times, Petco said it was “deeply saddened by the … 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,”