Dog Owner Dies of Sepsis After Infection From Letting His Dog Lick Him

A man was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with sepsis and organ failure. Doctors discovered it all stemmed from a dog lick.

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Nov. 27 2019, Updated 10:33 a.m. ET

Source: istock

Dogs are the harbingers of everything good in this world. In fact, they're so pure that science has proven they can basically "smell" or sense bad people. If that doesn't scream man's best friend, I don't know what does.

So it makes complete sense that we often feel more comfortable with our furry counterparts than we do other human beings, which is why this story about a man contracting sepsis from his dog's lick is so troubling.

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When you have a puppy all our own that you've been lucky enough to care for, it's not abnormal to show an inordinate amount of affection to said puppy. Dogs have these limitless amounts of love and are big fans of expressing it. Whether it's sitting in your lap like a baby (no matter how big they are) requesting endless belly rubs and pats, and, of course, sniffing your face and licking it constantly, it's always wonderful.

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In the case of a 63-year-old man living in Germany, however, the grand displays of affection from his beloved canine companion unfortunately resulted in a "multiple-organ failure". A few weeks after getting licked in the face by his dog, the man got a fever, then experienced muscle pains, and had difficulty breathing. He went to the hospital to find out just what was going on, and his diagnosis wasn't good.

In a short span of time, he suffered advanced kidney damage and severe "liver dysfunction." After being admitted to intensive care, his condition only worsened. Doctors discovered he was battling gangrene and a startlingly dangerous sepsis infection. The man's blood work then revealed the cause of it all: the presence of the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is usually found in dog and cat saliva. 

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Sadly, none of the treatments were able to improve the man's condition and his family ultimately decided to turn off life support after he suffered 16 days of multiple organ failures.

While this sounds like a nightmare, one-in-a-bazillion scenario, it turns out that there were two other reported cases of dog owners contracting C. canimorsus last year. In 2018, 58-year-old Sharon Larson from Wisconsin died soon after her dog had nipped her.

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Another Wisconsin resident, Greg Manteufel, had both of his legs amputated up to his kneecaps and had parts of his hands cut off after having the bacteria transmitted from one of eight puppies he was hanging out with shortly before falling ill.

This year a woman from Ohio, Marie Trainer, thought she just had the flu, until she noticed her body temperature didn't increase, but actually began to plummet well below a healthy level.

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She immediately went to the hospital and in a matter of a few hours she had developed sepsis caused by the presence of C. canimorsus in her bloodstream. She believes the condition was brought on after her dog licked a small cut on her arm.

While this specific bacteria isn't harmful to kitties and puppers, it can be fatal to human beings. Most times, it just results in fever, diarrhea, headaches, and vomiting.

But then there are instances when it turns into a full on blood infection, which usually occurs when individuals have an already compromised immune system, suffer from alcoholism, or don't have a spleen. If one does suffer a C. canimorsus infection, there's a 25 percent chance they'll die. 

If you're ever bitten by a cat or dog, the CDC recommends you immediately wash the area with soap and water and if possible and get yourself checked by a doctor right away to be on the safe side.

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If you're aware that you have a compromised immune system or are being treated for caner, then you should consult a doctor on the best way you should go about interacting with pets, too.

I'm not happy about having to tell you not to let dogs lick you in the face because they're the best creatures of all time, but I also don't want you contracting a bacteria that'll get your limbs cut off, or, you know, kill you. I mean, who's going to feed your pets once you're gone?

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