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Parents Sue Petco after 10-Year-Old Son Dies from Rat Bite Fever

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Sarah Kim4 years ago

According to Sky News, 10-year-old Aidan Pankey of San Diego, California, died on June 12, 2013 from a rat’s bite.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the young boy died because an infectious bacteria, streptobacillus moniliformis, otherwise known as Rat Bite Fever.

His parents are suing Petco for selling the diseased pet. 

Lawsuit Claims Petco Failed to Ensure Consumer Safety

  • Aidan’s grandmother purchased the pet as a mate for his female rat. He had named the rat Alex.
  • According to the lawsuit filed by Aidan’s family, the boy woke up in during the night in pain, with a fever, and stomach problems. He was also pale, and was almost unable to walk.  He was taken to a hospital, but died within a few hours.
  • Petco’s spokesman stated he was “deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss,” and that the company was investigating the claims. He said “The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family's concerns very seriously.”
  • Although Petco claims the pet looked safe, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer, the parents, claim Petco should have tested for the disease. They also believe that the pet retailer should have been aware of its animal’s condition.
  • The parents believe the retailer did not display adequate warnings about the potential risks, particularly for children. They believe the negligence of the retailer led to the boy’s death, and stated that this caused them emotional and economic hardship.
  • According to the attorney, the family wants tighter controls regarding the company’s regulations.

Information on Rate Bite Fever

The information below is provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection cannot be transmitted from one person to another. The infection can spread through:

  • Bites or scratches from infected rodents (such as rats, mice, and gerbils)
  • Handling rodents with the disease (even without a bite or scratch)
  • Consuming food or drink contaminated with the bacteria

Without treatment, RBF can be serious or potentially fatal. Severe illnesses can include:

  • Infections involving the heart (endocarditis, myocarditis, or pericarditis)
  • Infections involving the brain (meningitis)
  • Infections involving the lungs (pneumonia)
  • Abscesses in internal organs

While death from RBF is rare, it can occur if it goes untreated. Treatment usually includes prescribed antibiotics.


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