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PetCo Blamed for Case of Rat Bite Fever

PHOENIX - A man says he was hospitalized with rat-bite fever he got from a rat he bought from PetCo. George Heitzman claims he became "violently ill" from the "rare disease that can be fatal to humans."

In his complaint in Maricopa County Court, Heitzman says PetCo "failed to give adequate instructions to avoid the dangers posed by the infectious diseases that the rat carried" when he bought it.

Heitzman claims that the company had previously sold rats with the disease, including one to a 10-year-old boy who contracted rat bite fever.

Rat-bite fever is extremely rare in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disease causes fever, chills, a rash and swollen joints, and is treated with penicillin and other antibiotics.

Heitzman also sued W&K Pets dba Pet's Paradise. He adds that when he was bitten, "he was using the rat for a purpose that was intended by the defendants," that is, "handling the rat, as a normal consumer would."

He seeks damages for product liability, medical expenses and lost wages. He is represented by M.E. "Buddy" Rake Jr.

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