A 63-year-old man in Germany died after being affected by a rare bacterial infection. He was licked by his dog, after which he died. Doctors have cautioned pet owners to be aware of any unusual symptoms. According to the reports, the patient got admitted to Red Cross Hospital in Bremen, Germany, after three days of severe symptoms. Initially, he had experienced some flu-like symptoms, including elevated temperature and difficulty breathing too. The day before he was admitted to the hospital, his symptoms took a nosedive. He was experiencing nerve and muscle pain in his legs. A rash had also bloomed upon his face. Closer examination revealed that there was bleeding within the skin on his legs. In addition to all this, he had liver dysfunction and kidney injury, as well as hypoxia, lack of blood flow to the muscles. Besides that, he was not urinating.
The medical team was a loss. They said the patient didn’t have the headache or stiff neck associated with meningitis, nor had he traveled anywhere he could have contracted an exotic infection. He was diagnosed with a severe blood infection caused by the body’s immune response (sepsis) and purpura fulminans, which is a blood clotting disorder that causes skin discolorations. It was on the fourth day after being hospitalized that the doctors finally identified the culprit, which is a bacterium called Capnocytophaga canimorsus. This microbe is a normal and healthy member of the gingival flora in cats and dogs, which is quite common around the world. But it hardly gets transmitted to humans. The man was neither bitten nor injured by his dog. The animal only licked him, and in this case, this was enough to do the damage.
Pet owners with flu-like symptoms should immediately seek medical advice if their symptoms exceed that of a viral infection. Physicians who are consulted for such cases should enquire about any contacts with cats and dogs. They should also consider C. canimorsus infections in the presence of purpura fulminans and the absence of animal bites or scratches and any immunodeficiency. In such cases, empiric treatment with penicillin combined with beta-lactam inhibitor should be started immediately until the diagnosis is established.