A San Diego family is suing Petco following the death of their ten-year-old son after he was bitten by a pet rat.

Attorney John Gomez told the Associated Press his firm filed the lawsuit seeking an unspecified amount for the suffering of the Pankey family. Aidan Pankey died June 12, 2013 after being sent to the hospital for severe stomach pains.

The cause of death was ruled as streptobacillus moniliformis infection, also known as rat-bite fever.

"As a company engaged in the business of selling rats, the defendants knew or should have known about the dangers - especially to children - of rat-bite fever and ensured that no diseased rats entered the stream of commerce," the lawsuit said, according to The Chicago Tribune.

"We are deeply saddened by the Pankey family's tragic loss," Petco said in a statement. "The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority, and we take the family's concerns very seriously."

Petco distributes information sheets for those who buy rats, which warn customers that rats could potentially contain rat-bit fever and that people should wash their hands before and after handling their animals.

People usually contract rat-bite fever from bites or scratches from infected rodents. Fever, vomiting and muscle and joint pain can result. Death can result if the condition goes untreated, especially if infection spreads to vital organs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rat-bite fever is rare in the U.S., according to the CDC's website.

Aidan's grandmother purchased the rat, which was named Alex. Aidan took the rat home May 27, 2013 but woke up the night of June 11 in severe pain, having a fever and stomach problems. According to the lawsuit, he was pale, lethargic and could hardly walk. The next day, at 1:09 a.m., he died.

"He was a bright, energetic, friendly, happy kid who actually had a prior rat, who was a female, and he had this idea in his young head of having his female rat get married," Gomez said.

Gomez said the lawsuit was not filed until now because the attorneys were waiting on lab results from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which performed tests on the rat.

Petco said it is in the process of investigating the claims of the lawsuit and said it will respond when more information is available.

According to the CDC, rat-bite fever can be contracted from bites or scratches from infected rodents or even by simply handling the animal. Consuming food or drink contaminated with the bacteria can also result in contracting the illness. People cannot spread the illness to one another and rarely is it fatal.

Effective treatments of rat-bite fever include antibiotics, such as penicillin. Those at higher risk include those with pet rats, those who work with pet rats in stores or laboratories, and those who live in rat-infested buildings. Those who handle rats or clean their cages are advised to clean their cages and wear protective gloves, wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their mouths with their hands after handling rodents, says the CDC.

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