The man, from Germany, developed severe sepsis and gangrene from the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus

By Julie Mazziotta
November 25, 2019 04:04 PM
Credit: European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine

A 63-year-old man died after a lick from his dog caused him to go into multi-organ failure.

The unnamed man, from Germany, went to the hospital after three days of a fever and trouble breathing, according to a case study published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine. At the hospital, tests showed that he had kidney damage and signs of liver dysfunction, and doctors observed dark spots all over his face and skin discoloration on his lower body.

After he was moved to intensive care at Rotes Kreuz Krankenhaus Hospital, doctors diagnosed him with severe sepsis and gangrene.

Further testing revealed that the man had a bacteria common in cats and dogs, called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, in his blood, a “very rare” scenario considering he had only been licked by his dog. According to his doctors, who wrote the case study, only one other person has reportedly contracted the bacteria from a dog lick — and though still rare, it is more likely that it would occur from a bite that opened up the skin.

Additionally, they found that the man had a compromised immune system, with a low cell and platelet count.

The 63-year-old man contracted a fatal infection

His doctors tried to stop the spread of bacteria with high doses of antibiotics, but the man’s health continued to decline, and he eventually developed brain damage and multi-organ failure. After 16 days, his family elected to take him off of life support, and he died shortly after.

While his case is extremely rare, the case study authors say that pet owners should immediately get medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms that persist far longer than “those of a simple viral infection.”

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Additionally, doctors should be on the lookout for similar cases, and check with patients to see if they have dogs or cats.

Over the last year, two people have spoken out about losing all of their limbs after licks from a dogs. One of the two, Greg Manteufel, told PEOPLE that he developed a fever after going to a party and petting all of the dogs but never expected anything to go wrong.

“I’ve been around dogs my whole life, having them lick at me in my face and hands and everywhere,” he explains. “The doctors told me I could have probably hit the lottery five times that day before I should have got what I got that day from a dog.”