The Grapevine

Dog Lick Kills Man With Fatal Infection

A short time playing with his dog has killed a man in Germany. Doctors said the 63-year-old contracted a fatal infection after being licked by his pet.

The case, reported in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, shows that the man was healthy before the incident. But the dog’s lick exposed him to the bacterium called capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is commonly present in the mouths of dogs and cats. 

People commonly contract the infection through animal bite. However, the man had no signs of injuries or wounds from his dog, CNN reported Monday.

"He had been touched and licked, but not bitten or injured, by his dog, his only pet, in previous weeks," according to the report by attending doctors at the Red Cross Hospital in Bremen, Germany.

The infection started from flu-like symptoms and later led to severe sepsis. The man also suffered from purpura fulminans, an acute disorder that causes blood spots, bruising and discoloration of the skin and necrosis.

He died from multiple organ failure at the hospital. The case has raised concerns about the potentially deadly effects of exposure to animal saliva. 

In May, a woman in Ohio was rushed to the hospital after contracting the same infection from capnocytophaga canimorsus. Doctors had to amputate her legs and hands because of the damage caused by the bacteria. 

Doctors said the patient was potentially exposed to capnocytophaga canimorsus after her German shepherd puppy licked an open cut. Another man from Wisconsin lost parts of his nose and all limbs in the past year due to the infection. 

Capnocytophaga canimorsus is "completely normal flora of a dog's mouth and usually doesn't cause any sort of significant disease,” Stephen Cole, a lecturer in veterinary microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said. “However, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong patient ... it can lead to severe infections -- but very, very rarely.”

The case of the German patient highlights the importance of observing changes in the body early. Doctors said pet owners with banal symptoms, especially like flu, should urgently seek medical advice when symptoms become unusual.

dog A dog lick may transmit the bacterium called capnocytophaga canimorsus to people, which has been linked to a deadly infection. Pixabay

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