Haverhill Fever (or epidemic arthritic erythema) is a form of "rat-bite fever" caused by the bacteriumStreptobacillus moniliformis, an organism common in rats and mice. Symptoms begin to appear two to ten days after a rat bite injury. The illness resembles a severe influenza, with a moderate fever (38-40°C, or 101-104°F), chills, joint pain, and a diffuse red rash, located mostly on the hands and feet. The causative organism can be isolated by blood culture, and penicillin is the most common treatment. Treatment is usually quite successful, although the body can clear the infection by itself in most cases. Complications are rare, but can include endocarditis and meningitis.
Despite its name, it can present without being bitten by a rat.
The disease was recognized from an outbreak which occurred in Haverhill, Massachusetts in January, 1926. The organism S. moniliformis was isolated from the patients. Epidemiology implicated infection via consumption of milk from one particular dairy.