Rat-bite fever (RBF) is an infectious disease that can be caused by two different bacteria. Streptobacillary RBF is caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis in North America while spirillary RBF or sodoku is caused by Spirillum minus and occurs mostly in Asia. People usually get the disease from infected rodents or consumption of contaminated food or water. Rat bite fever is transmitted to people in around 10% of rat bites. Disease has been reported in mice, birds, guinea pigs, and nonhuman primates. The disease is most often seen in Asia, Europe, North America. The exact incidence is unknown.
Symptoms depend on the bacteria that caused the infection. Symptoms due to Streptobacillus moniliformis may include recurrent fever, myalgia, redness, or swelling and Spirillum minus may include chills, fever, open sore at the site of the bite, rash may be red/purple, swollen lymph nodes near the bite. They usually occur 3-10 days after exposure to an infected rodent, but can be delayed as long as 3 weeks. Rat-bite fever is treated with antibiotics (penicillin or tetracyclines for 7-14 days). Alternative drugs include ampicillin, cefuroxime, and cefotaxime.