Fatal rat bites

O. Yanai*, L. Goldin, J. Hiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a rare case of infant death due to blood loss resulting from multiple rat bites. Domestic dogs and cats cause most animal bites. Bites of a house rat usually cause bacterial infection, successfully treated with antibiotics. There is little information about death due to house rat bites. Since the wounds they cause tend to occur post-mortem, they are usually wedged, clean and without subcutaneous bleeding. An 11-week-old, malnourished infant girl was bitten to death while sleeping in her mother's bed in a rat-infested home. The infant's clothing was covered with blood, parts of her face were missing and marks of gnawing were present on her neck and extremities. There was subcutaneous bleeding around the wounds indicating that they were inflicted while the child was alive. Autopsy findings revealed profound blood loss. We conclude that a combination of low socio-economic status, severe failure to thrive, and poor hygiene in a rat-infested environment contributed to the fatal outcome in this attack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-613, 659, 658
Issue number8
StatePublished - 15 Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


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