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January 1920


Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1920;25(1):94-111. doi:10.1001/archinte.1920.00090300099006

DEFINITION  Rat bite fever (Sodoku of the Japanese; Rattenbisskrankheit; toxi-infection par morsure de rat; morbo da morso di topo, etc.) is an acute infectious disease caused by Spirochaeta morsus muris, following the bite of the rat (rarely cat, weasel, ferret or other animal) and characterized, after an incubation period, by recurring paroxysms of fever, a blue red exanthem, marked nervous symptoms, emaciation and weakness.

HISTORICAL  The disease is best known in Japan where it has long been endemic. For a review of the history of this extremely interesting and rare disease the reader is referred to the excellent report of the disease in Japan by Miyake,1 who, in 1900, found no cases recorded in the European literature. In the older Japanese literature appear many references to a disease incident on the bite of the rat, but not fully described. The first good description in modern Japanese publications appeared in 1890,