Germany: Can dog licking be fatal? A recent case published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine seems to suggest so. According to the case report, an otherwise healthy 63-year-old German man died within weeks of multiorgan failure (septic shock), after being licked by his dog, his only pet. This occurred due to a rare bite infection caused by Capnocytophaga canimorsus -- bacteria found in the saliva of healthy dogs and cats. It’s a kind of bacteria that’s usually only transmitted to humans if they are bitten.
The patient’s history and clinical and laboratory examinations indicated no immunodeficiency, asplenia or alcohol abuse.
The man was presented to the hospital with a 3-day history of fever and progressive difficult or labored breathing. The day before he had developed a burning sensation in his left leg and muscle pain in both, petechiae, or rounds spots on the skin that look like rashes as a result of bleeding capillaries, which made his legs look discolored. According to the researchers, he had a stable heartbeat, but a high body temperature of 102. Labored breathing caused an inadequate oxygen supply to his tissues. Also, his failing kidneys were not producing urine.
Doctors were not able to figure out the real problems behind his condition as there was no hospitalization or recent travel abroad. Doctors then suspected him to be infected with some kind of bacteria but he did not have any open wounds or meningitis. His condition was deteriorating day by day following which he was shifted to the ICU. Upon shifting, he was diagnosed as having sepsis with skin death and blood clotting, or purpura fulminans. On the 4th day of hospitalization, blood cultures yielded the Gram-negative bacillus Capnocytophaga canimorsus.
Doctors at the hospital determined that he had multiple, serious ailments: severe kidney injury, signs of liver dysfunction and rhabdomyolysis, deterioration of muscle tissue that can result in kidney failure. He also had a buildup of lactic acid in his bloodstream. He was treated with antibiotics, but his health took a rapid decline for the worse over the next 30 hours
The patient finally died after 16 days of treatment.
The case report -- Being Licked by a Dog Can Be Fatal: Capnocytophaga canimorsus Sepsis with Purpura Fulminans in an Immunocompetent Man is published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine.