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Rat-bite fever (RBF) is an infectious disease that can be caused by two different bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis in North America and Spirillum minus in Asia. The majority of cases are due to rodent bite. It can also be transmitted throughout food or water that is contaminated with rat excrement. Symptoms depend on the bacteria that caused the infection. Symptoms of the streptobacillary form include recurrent fever, rash, and arthralgias. The spirillary form causes relapsing fever, rash, and regional lymphadenitis.
RBF is most often observed in Asia, Europe, North America. The exact incidence is unknown. Both the spirillary and streptobacillary forms affect people who live in cities in crowded, unsanitary conditions, as well as biomedical laboratory personnel. RBF is diagnosed by isolating bacteria from blood, synovial fluid, or other body fluids. Rat-bite fever is treated with antibiotics (penicillin or tetracyclines for 7-14 days). Alternative drugs include ampicillin, cefuroxime, and cefotaxime. People that handle rats or clean their cages should wear protective gloves, wash their hands after contact, and avoid hand-to mouth contact.