Clinical infection in house rats (Rattus rattus) caused by Streptobacillus notomytis.

Michel, V., C. Ulber, D. Pöhle, B. Köpke, K. Engel, U. Kaim, A. Fawzy, S. Funk, J. Fornefett, C. G. Baums, et al., "Clinical infection in house rats (Rattus rattus) caused by Streptobacillus notomytis.", Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, vol. 111, issue 10, pp. 1955-1966, 2018 Oct.


Rat bite fever is an under-reported, under-diagnosed emerging zoonosis with worldwide distribution. Besides Spirillum minus, Streptobacillus moniliformis is the major causative microorganism although it usually colonises rats without any clinical signs. A group of house rats (Rattus rattus) kept in a zoo exhibition for educational purposes suffered from neurological signs including disorientation, torticollis, stall walking, ataxia and death. Gross pathological and histo-pathological examinations of the investigated rats revealed high-grade otitis interna et media, from which Streptobacillus notomytis was isolated in pure culture or as the predominant microorganism. This case series underlines a previously expressed hypothesis that R. rattus might be naturally colonised with S. notomytis, whereas the traditional rat bite fever organism, S. moniliformis, might be restricted to the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). However, the general paucity of Streptobacillus isolates, especially from their respective animal hosts, precludes definitive proof of these host tropisms. This is the first report of S. notomytis detection outside Asia and Australia and the first evidence for its role as a facultative pathogen in house rats.