How to treat a Rat Bite or Scratch

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Rats can transmit diseases through their saliva, and excreta. Additionally, they can harbor parasites that can transmit diseases, such as mites, fleas, and ticks.

Rats are usually not aggressive and will only bite if they feel threatened or cornered. Most likely, you won’t get bitten unless you’re handling them.

Even though most rat bites aren’t serious, it’s still a good idea to visit a doctor if you’re bitten. However, you can also take some first aid measures to reduce the risk of infections.

First Aid for Rat Bite/Scratch

If you get bitten by a rat, make sure to take the right first aid before visiting the doctor. The first aid measures would help you to clean the wound and prevent it from getting infected further.

  1. Wear a mask and keep your surroundings clean
  2. Once the bleeding stops, clean the wound with a mild soap and warn water. Make sure you clean the wound completely as there might be some soap particles on skin that may later cause irritation.
  3. Use an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with a dry dressing.
  4. Make sure you are not wearing any jewellery while treating the wound.
  5. Utmost care is mandatory while being bitten by a rodent, in order to avoid further complications.

Signs that you’re having an infection

Rat bites can sometimes lead to infections if not treated properly. These infections can be indicated with the following possible signs/symptoms.

  • Redness or swelling near the rat bite
  • Irritation / Itchiness on the rash
  • Pus

Illness caused due to Rat Bite

One of the most common and major infections caused due to rat bite or scratch is the Rat-Bite Fever. There is a high possibility of getting this disease you handle a rat with the disease or eating food contaminated by rat feces.

Two types of bacteria can cause rat bite fever. They are:

  1. Streptobacillus moniliformis

This type of bacteria can cause a serious set of symptoms that can usually occur after three days and can last up to three weeks. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Prolonged Fever
  • Headache
  • Vomiting / Nausea
  • Pain in backbone and joints
  • Rashes and swelling found in hands / legs
  1. Spirillum minus

Symptoms of spirillum can usually be spotted between one to three weeks after being exposed to the bite. These may include:

  • Fever, most probably to be on and off at regular intervals
  • Irritation on the infected part
  • Swelling on the wound
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  1. Haverhill fever– The symptoms of Haverhill may most probably include symptoms of severe vomiting and sore throat.

What if a Rat Bite is left untreated?

Rat Bite can cause serious health issues if left untreated. These ailments may include inflammation of heart muscle or valves or arteries, veins leading to necrosis  myocarditis, endocarditis, pneumonia, systemic vasculitis, pericarditis, polyarteritis nodosa, hepatitis, nephritis, meningitis, focal abscesses and amnionitis.

However, if left untreated, the mortality rate is only 10%.


You can see rats as lovable pets, but at the same time, you should also make sure of being cautious of their own risks. When bitten by one, you must make sure to consult with a doctor and get the right treatment immediately.

The symptoms will eventually go off and the cure may happen gradually after a week of antibiotics, however you must consider to finish the course of the prescribed antibiotics completely.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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