A California family has filed a lawsuit against pet retailer Petco after their 10-year-old son died due to deadly bacterial infection from a rat purchased from the chain.
Aidan Pankey died in June of last year, roughly two weeks after his grandmother bought a male rat for him at a local Petco store. The rat was meant as a companion for the boy’s other pet rat, a female. After suddenly developing a fever and experiencing pain, he was taken to the hospital where he later died. The boy’s death was attributed to infection from streptobacillus moniliformis. The disease is known as rat-bite fever, the Associated Press notes.
Medical authorities say that rat-bite fever can be contracted by humans just from handling mice, gerbils and rats who are infected the the bacteria, as well as through scratches and bites. The disease can be treated with antibiotics and is usually not fatal.
The boy’s family accuses Petco of negligence, alleging that Petco should have performed tests to ensure that rats sold as pets were not infected with the dangerous disease. They also claim that Petco did not advise rat-buyers about the danger of infected rats. The family is requesting unspecified damages.
In a statement, Petco offered condolences to the family and said it is reviewing the matter. Petco information regarding rodent purchases, found both in stores and online, includes warnings about the disease.
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