A British woman who was scratched several times by a rat she was trying to set free from her bird feeder died six days later from the wound, The Daily Mail reported Friday.
Carol Colburn, 56, refused to wear gloves as she tried to release the rodent, and was clawed so badly she had to give up and have her son, Ross, take over.
Within days of being scratched on May 2, Colburn became ill with flu-like symptoms. Two days later her skin became yellow and she had difficulty moving. She was taken to the hospital and died three-and-a-half hours later, the Mail reported.
An infectious diseases specialist told an inquest into Colburn's death that she died from Weil’s disease, or leptospirosis, a rare condition contracted from contact with animals.
Colburn was an animal lover who had sectioned off a corner of her garden to attract wildlife such as foxes and badgers.
“Leptospirosis bacteria infects small mammals and rodents. They won't show symptoms but they excrete the bacteria in their urine and it infects their skin,” Microbiologist Marc Cubbon told the Mail.
“Humans can become infected if they come into contact with the animal's urine, either in soil or in water, or if they come into contact with the animal's skin and they have an open wound. It's also possible that humans might be able to inhale the disease.”
The inquest determined that Colburn died from the infection emanating from the rat.