A little boy died suddenly after supposedly contracting a rare disease from his pet rat. Now, his family is suing Petco, claiming the company sold them an infected rat.

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Dr. Marc Siegel said on America’s News HQ that this is entirely possible. “The strep that this was caused by is actually fairly common among rats, and the rat can be asymptomatic.”

The Centers for Disease Control has reported a couple hundred cases of this happening.

Dr. Siegel said the boy could have gotten the disease simply by handling the rat, not necessarily by being bitten. He said that if it’s treated quickly enough, people can be cured and if left untreated, there’s a 25 percent fatality rate.

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Defense Attorney Brian Claypool said Petco has a responsibility to make sure the rat had an adequate vaccine. Dr. Siegel noted that the infection can’t be cured by a vaccine, since it’s a respiratory infection.

Claypool said the company will likely pass the blame onto an outside vendor that sold them the animal.

“They have what’s called a Hold Harmless Agreement with the supplier,” he explained. “The supplier has to assume full responsibility financially if it was their fault.”

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