Haverhill fever

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Haverhill fever
Classification and external resources
Specialty infectious disease
ICD-10 A25.1 (ILDS A25.110)
ICD-9-CM 026.1
DiseasesDB 30717
MeSH D011906

Haverhill Fever (or epidemic arthritic erythema) is a form of "rat-bite fever" caused by the bacterium Streptobacillus 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.[1]

The disease was recognized from an outbreak which occurred in Haverhill, Massachusetts in January, 1926.[2] The organism S. moniliformis was isolated from the patients. Epidemiology implicated infection via consumption of milk from one particular dairy.[3]


  1. ^ Fordham JN, McKay-Ferguson E, Davies A, Blyth T (1992). "Rat bite fever without the bite". Ann. Rheum. Dis. 51 (3): 411–2. doi:10.1136/ard.51.3.411. PMC 1004676Freely accessible. PMID 1575596. 
  2. ^ Parker, F; Hudson, NP (September 1926). "The Etiology of Haverhill Fever (Erythema Arthriticum Epidemicum).". The American Journal of Pathology. 2 (5): 357–380.7. PMC 1931771Freely accessible. PMID 19969709. 
  3. ^ PLACE, E. H.; SUTTON, L. E. (1 November 1934). "ERYTHEMA ARTHRITICUM EPIDEMICUM (HAVERHILL FEVER)". Archives of Internal Medicine. 54 (5): 659–684. doi:10.1001/archinte.1934.00160170002001.