A dog owner has died after catching a rare infection when he was licked by his dog.
The 63-year-old man, who hasn’t been named, was completely healthy before contracting the devastating disease from his dog’s saliva.
He spent more than two weeks in hospital with a number of different conditions caused by the rare infection, including gangrene, pneumonia and extremely high fever, according to reports.
The man’s dog had infected him with Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacteria normally transmitted by bites, with a simple lick of the skin.
At first, the man was admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms, a fever and laboured breathing. However, by the time he began medical treatment, he had already contracted severe sepsis, which left him in intensive care, fighting for his life.
The man’s horrifying plight is detailed in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine, written by doctors from the Rote Kreuz Krankenhaus in Bremen, Germany.
In his first four days in hospital, the man’s condition significantly worsened, starting with a rash on his face, nerve pain and bruises on his legs.
The patient’s kidneys and liver then started shutting down, his blood began clotting, his skin started rotting away and it led to a cardiac arrest.
He was resuscitated after his heart stopped and put onto life support but he was far from out of the woods.
Doctors said the Capnocytophaga canimorsus is usually triggered by bites, so they were surprised to find it had contracted via licking alone, which can only have transmitted small numbers of bacteria.
According to a study in the Netherlands, the bug affects just one in everyone 1.5 million people and in 28 to 31 per cent of those cases, the results are fatal.
Ordinarily, doctors said, it’s people with weakened immune systems who are seriously affected by the bacteria, however this case proves it can happen to anyone.
The team, led by Dr Naomi Mader, wrote:
Pet owners with flu-like symptoms should urgently seek medical advice when their symptoms exceed those of a simple viral infection, which in this case were [breathing problems and rash].
Physicians confronted with such patients should ask about contact with dogs and cats.
The man’s condition worsened following his cardiac arrest and he developed a fungal infection in his lungs, which led to suspected pneumonia, blisters over his entire body, gangrene in his fingers and toes, and MRSA.
Scans of his brain revealed he had a massive build-up of fluid in his brain that caused permanent damage to the organ.
After 16 days in hospital, the family decided to stop the life support and the man passed away.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.