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Family of Boy Who Contracted Illness from Pet Rat Sues PetSmart

The family of a Colorado boy who allegedly contracted a rare fever from his pet rat is suing PetSmart, the pet store chain from which the rodent was purchased.

The lawsuit, filed by the Aiassa-Roberts family in federal court in Denver, alleges that their son contracted the illness from a rat bought at a PetSmart store in Parker, Colorado.

According to court documents, a rat purchased by Robert Aiassa-Roberts for his son, Steiner, became ill and died soon after it was brought home. Aiassa-Roberts returned the dead rodent to the store and received a replacement animal. The second rat also fell ill and died soon after purchase.

The family claims that Steiner was bitten or scratched by the second rodent, contracting "rat bite fever," a rare illness which causes flu-like symptoms and skin rash and can be fatal if it is not properly treated with antibiotics.

The lawsuit contends that PetSmart knew or should have known that the company that supplied the rat, Rainbow World Exotics, did not immunize the rodents against the disease.

The family is seeking unspecified damages for breach of warranty, negligence and product liability.