Rat-bite fever death prompts Petco lawsuit

Ohio parents and pet owners might be interested in a recent lawsuit filed against Petco, a national pet and pet supply retailer. The lawsuit alleges that a 10-year-old boy died of "rat-bite fever" after coming into contact with a rat that had been purchased at a Petco location in San Diego.

The complaint alleges that Petco did not properly test the animal and that the company should have been aware that the rat was a carrier of the disease. It also alleges that Petco provided insufficient warning of the risks associated with pet rats. The family's attorney said that the pet rat had been purchased by the boy's grandmother. The young boy died on June 12, 2013, but the lawsuit was not filed until February 2014 because the family was waiting for lab results from the Centers for Disease Control.

Petco released a statement expressing its sympathies and saying that the safety of customers and pets is a top priority for the company. The CDC says the risk of rat-bite fever is highest among people who have pet rats or who work with the animals in labs or pet stores. Around 200 instances of the disease had been reported nationwide as of the year 2004.

If the plaintiffs can establish negligence, Petco may be liable to the family of the boy for damages. Those who have suffered damages as a result of the negligence of a manufacturer or retailer may have claims for relief in civil court. A product liability attorney may be able to help injured parties by investigating liability in the chain of supply or by deposing experts whose testimony may be beneficial at trial.

Source: CBS, "Family sues Petco after boy dies from "rat-bite fever"", February 25, 2014

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