Aidan Pankey died June 12 from streptobacillus monilformis infection, commonly known as rat-bite fever, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office. The pet rat in question was purchased two weeks earlier to serve as a companion to a rat Aidan already owned.
The wrongful death lawsuit against Petco was not filed until Monday in San Diego Superior Court because the family was waiting for lab results from the federal Centers for Disease Control, family attorney John Gomez told reporters. He said the CDC concluded that the rat was infected, though the agency did not immediately confirm the claim publicly.
In the lawsuit, Aidan’s parents, Andrew Pankey and Vanessa Sauer, allege that Petco did not adequately test the rat for the disease and did not post adequate warnings about the potential risks to children.
In a statement, Petco said it was “deeply saddened” by the death and it takes the Pankey family’s concerns “very seriously.”
Rat-bite fever can be treated with antibiotics and is rarely fatal, according to the CDC.