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Nashville woman being treated for rat bite fever

A local pet store is investigating claims one of its rats made a customer sick.Jessica Qualls is in the hospit...

Posted: Jan 28, 2018 11:48 AM
Updated: Jan 28, 2018 11:48 AM

A local pet store is investigating claims one of its rats made a customer sick.

Jessica Qualls is in the hospital and being treated for rat bite fever.

Qualls said she bought "Salt" from Petco in Bellevue on Dec. 29. She returned the rat on Jan. 10 after she said the pet bit her.

Ten days later, she started feeling sick.

"Once I realized I couldn't move my left arm I knew it wasn't the flu," Qualls said.

Qualls spoke to News 4 from her hospital bed Friday night.

"They are treating me like it's rat bite fever so far," Qualls said.

Qualls said Petco gave her a refund, and later told her the rat has respiratory issues and died.

Qualls said her other pet rat, not from Petco, has also since died.

"They kind of acted like it was no big deal, like yeah, that can't happen," Qualls said.

Petco spokesperson Lisa Stark sent us this statement:

At Petco, the health and safety of people and pets is always our top priority. We're aware of this customer's reported illness, we take her concerns very seriously and we're conducting a thorough investigation. With regard to companion animals sold in our stores, including rats, we provide all new pet parents with an outline of proper care instructions, safe handling guidelines and potential health risks, along with our recommendation to seek medical attention any time they receive a bite, scratch or other questionable contact with their pet. It's also important to know that our animal sourcing, handling and care standards are among the highest in the industry; and all of our procedures are developed and frequently reviewed by an independent panel of animal care experts, veterinarians and specialists.

We do not want anyone to become unnecessarily alarmed, but companion animals of all kinds are potential carriers of a number of diseases that require certain safeguards to ensure safety. We recommend that pet parents always wash their hands before and after handling companion animals and/or habitat contents. Also, pregnant women, children under the age of 5 and people with weakened immune systems should consult with their physician before purchasing and/or caring for any companion animal. Anyone who is bitten, scratched or has doubts about contact with a pet should always consult a physician and ensure they let their doctor know what kind of pet they own.

Qualls wants more of an explanation.

"If I didn't come to the hospital where would I be? Would I die? I know there are cases where people have died. It's scary," Qualls said.

Rat bite fever can easily be treated with antibiotics.

Qualls said she does have an auto-immune disorder that is likely making this illness for her a little worse.

She said she is not opposed to having a pet rat again in the future, but she will go about adopting one differently.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1005797

Reported Deaths: 16449
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1353572119
Lake663011164
Allen57820801
Hamilton46296464
St. Joseph44311613
Elkhart35888509
Vanderburgh32214480
Tippecanoe27898258
Johnson25056445
Hendricks23854359
Porter22890365
Madison18724409
Clark18540252
Vigo17449303
Monroe15242199
LaPorte15124250
Delaware15043261
Howard14719289
Kosciusko12285147
Hancock11709175
Bartholomew11602180
Warrick11287189
Floyd11082215
Wayne10965253
Grant10051220
Morgan9457176
Boone8913116
Dubois8263131
Dearborn820893
Henry8200152
Noble8017106
Marshall7916135
Cass7528121
Lawrence7447171
Shelby7176119
Jackson697289
Gibson6584115
Harrison647591
Knox6418106
Huntington6385100
DeKalb630699
Montgomery6252110
Miami592298
Putnam580078
Clinton574971
Whitley564255
Steuben560676
Wabash5324104
Jasper529879
Jefferson510297
Ripley499886
Adams481576
Daviess4670114
Scott438574
Greene424496
Wells423088
Clay422060
White418164
Decatur4164102
Fayette406187
Jennings386661
Posey376644
LaGrange357678
Washington357651
Randolph344499
Spencer339543
Fountain334760
Sullivan328652
Starke316470
Owen314170
Fulton309467
Orange293564
Jay284145
Franklin265443
Perry265352
Rush261332
Carroll261133
Vermillion257754
Parke231126
Pike228843
Tipton227559
Blackford192642
Pulaski183457
Crawford159223
Newton157848
Benton150217
Brown146147
Martin138219
Switzerland134911
Warren121016
Union107016
Ohio84513
Unassigned0540

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1511760

Reported Deaths: 23616
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1636861666
Cuyahoga1457252442
Hamilton1050421416
Montgomery737101254
Summit614971105
Lucas56058912
Butler51383711
Stark464421056
Lorain35443584
Warren32687373
Mahoning30598675
Clermont28106326
Lake26907443
Delaware24114162
Licking23820287
Trumbull22742556
Fairfield22309246
Greene22212320
Medina21941311
Clark19757351
Richland18500285
Portage17857250
Wood17394221
Allen15905269
Miami15487299
Muskingum14737185
Columbiana13940269
Wayne13722265
Tuscarawas12643304
Marion11906175
Scioto11432161
Pickaway11346141
Erie10811181
Ross10532198
Lawrence9725153
Ashtabula9658200
Hancock9649150
Belmont9262206
Geauga8906157
Jefferson8531197
Huron8338141
Union816557
Washington8066138
Sandusky7790148
Athens773676
Knox7679141
Darke7618155
Seneca7306144
Ashland6917126
Auglaize678097
Shelby6493113
Brown633387
Crawford6245130
Defiance6162103
Mercer612893
Fulton599296
Highland596899
Madison592176
Guernsey583468
Logan582795
Clinton581191
Preble5692122
Putnam5301108
Williams526185
Perry516563
Champaign510372
Jackson506571
Ottawa484086
Coshocton478783
Morrow456656
Pike432763
Fayette427461
Hardin416678
Gallia416266
Adams415392
Van Wert369579
Henry362571
Holmes3619123
Hocking355579
Wyandot322261
Carroll300659
Paulding279147
Meigs263350
Monroe214854
Noble198946
Morgan193232
Harrison180143
Vinton165125
Unassigned05
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