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July 1965

Antimicrobial Therapy of Ratbite Fever: A Review

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Instructor in Medicine, and Middle Tennessee Heart Association Fellow in Clinical Cardiology, Vanderbilt University Hospital.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(1):39-54. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870010041007

RATBITE fever is an acute illness caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minus, and characterized by chills, rash, and intermittent or relapsing fever. Arthritis or a local lesion at the bite-site, usually associated with regional lymphadenopathy, may also occur with the onset of other symptoms, depending upon the causative organism involved.

Although penicillin is accepted as the treatment of choice for the disease, no agreement can be found in the literature concerning the most desirable dosage and duration of therapy. This paper reports a case of streptobacillary-ratbite fever successfully treated with penicillin. Previous American, Canadian, and British experience with cases in which the causative microorganisms were clearly demonstrated are reviewed, and the therapeutic programs used have been compared with the results achieved in an attempt to determine optimal management with antimicrobials now available.

Report of a Case  A 38-year-old white male radioisotope laboratory technician was admitted to the medical service