Lifestyle & Human Interest

63-Year-Old Man Passes Away After Contracting Rare Disease When He Was Licked by His Dog


He may be the sweetest of boys, but bacteria in Fido’s mouth can, in very rare cases, pose a life-threatening health risk to humans.

A research article published by the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine said that a 63-year-old man from Germany died after succumbing to a bacterial infection that originated from the saliva of his pet dog.

The man had been experiencing flu-like symptoms, labored breathing and blood spots, bruising and discoloration of his skin when he went to the doctor.

As his condition worsened, doctors were able to uncover the bizarre reason why this otherwise healthy man was deteriorating so rapidly. The man had a bacterial infection called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which he contracted after he was licked by his pet dog.

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The bacteria are considered common and normal for dogs but can be dangerous to humans. Typically, individuals with spleen issues, immunodeficiency or a history of alcohol abuse are most susceptible to a Capnocytophaga canimorsus infection, according to the report.

Infection is also most common after a dog bite, but in this man’s case, he was not bitten — only licked.

“He had been touched and licked, but not bitten or injured, by his dog, his only pet, in previous weeks,” the report, produced by doctors from the Red Cross Hospital in Bremen, Germany, read.

The patient was admitted to the ICU where his condition continued to worsen. The infection spread throughout the man’s body, and “all extremities turned gangrenous,” the report read.

After 16 days of treatment, the man passed away.

“Despite extensive intensive care, his conditions deteriorated and he died from multiorgan failure,” the report read.

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In conclusion, the report urged pet owners to seek medical attention quickly if they experience flu-like symptoms accompanied by shortness of breath or should they notice tiny round brown-purple spots due to bleeding under the skin, known as petechiae.

According to Dr. Stephen Cole, a lecturer in veterinary microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, an infection of this severity is quite rare.

Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria are “completely normal flora of a dog’s mouth and usually doesn’t cause any sort of significant disease. However, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong patient … it can lead to severe infections — but very, very rarely,” Cole told CNN.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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