Port Alberni woman diagnosed with rat-bite fever faces surgery


A Port Alberni woman is sharing her frightening experience after her pet rat bit her.

Kasey Randall says she has owned the rodents before and had no reason to fear them, but now she’s facing a life-and-death situation.

“I’m terrified. In a couple of days I might not wake up, but this is the position that I’m in,” Randall told CHEK News.

Randall says she owned domestic rats when she was younger, and when two were available for adoption this past summer from the SPCA she thought they’d be good pets for her family.

As time went on, she noticed one wasn’t as friendly as the other.

“I was convinced I was going to tame it and instead it snuck up on me and took a chomp out of me,” said Randall, who says she washed the wound and then didn’t think about it.

Three days later though she was violently sick and in the hospital and was transferred to Victoria. But what was wrong wasn’t identified.

Eventually released after antibiotics, she later came down with a dangerously high fever for a couple of weeks before she headed back to the hospital. More testing revealed she had rat-bite fever.

Because of her health complications she says she was given two options: Wait until her heart gives out or replace two heart valves to extend her life for potentially years. But the surgery has risks.

“They gave me a 50 per cent survival rate within 30 days. Considering I have two young sons, six and 11, I didn’t see myself as having any other option than take the surgery,” said Randall.

The family says the Port Alberni SPCA should more thoroughly check any rat they’re adopting out with a veterinarian, and they didn’t receive all the same paperwork they received with their rabbit.

The BC SPCA says it “confirmed that all appropriate procedures were followed, and a veterinarian did examine and provide care for these rats before they were made available for adoption.”

The SPCA also says the bacteria which can lead to the infection known as rat-bite fever, is commonly found in almost all healthy rats.

Among its recommendations to steer clear from getting it, the SPCA says people should avoid contact with a rat’s mouth, don’t handle rats if you have open sores or cuts on your hands and wash your hands every single time you handle a rat or clean its cage. If you are bitten, wash it immediately with soap and water and keep watch for any signs of an infection.

Randall says she still believes rats make good pets.

Her surgery in Victoria is slated for Thursday.

READ ALSO: When the sun goes down, a swarm of rats emerges in downtown Vancouver

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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