Nearly four months after he came down with a rare blood infection stemming from a dog lick —which led to the amputation of parts of his limbs and face — Greg Manteufel has left the hospital to continue his recovery and reunite with his pit bull, reports FOX 6.
Manteufel, a painter from West Bend, Wisconsin, was rushed to the hospital on June 26 when he experienced a fever and weakness in his limbs. Doctors discovered Manteufel had contracted a blood infection caused by capnocytophaga, a bacteria found in the mouths of dogs and cats, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Just days before he became ill, 48-year-old Manteufel was at a birthday party where he played with many dogs, he told PEOPLE in August.
“I touched all the dogs that were there, I pet ’em all, I love dogs,” he explained to PEOPLE. “What might have happened was I touched one of the dogs or they licked my hand and then I rubbed my eye or my mouth or something, because I didn’t have any scratches or bites on me, open sores or nothing like that.”
While the capnocytophaga bacteria doesn’t make animals sick, if it’s spread to humans through saliva — which is extremely rare, the CDC notes — it can cause fevers, diarrhea, headaches and vomiting. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the infection can also lead to “severe sepsis and fatal septic shock, [and] gangrene of the digits or extremities.”
Manteufel underwent numerous amputations while in the hospital to save his life, which left him without his forearms, legs and parts of his nose. But during the life-changing ordeal, Manteufel longed to return home to see his own dog, a pit bull named Ellie, he told FOX 6.
“I couldn’t wait to see her when I got out of the hospital,” Manteufel told the news station while accompanied by his wife, Dawn. “We don’t want people to be scared of their dogs because of what happened to me.”
Despite the circumstances, Manteufel previously told PEOPLE that he understands what happened to him is rare, and is at no fault of the unidentified canine who passed the bacteria to him.
“I’ve been around dogs my whole life, having them lick at me in my face and hands and everywhere,” he explained. “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.”
Dawn told FOX 6 that the harrowing experience has taught the couple to appreciate each moment that they have with each other.
“When we leave each other now, we make sure we say ‘I love you,’ ” she said.
Manteufel is in physical therapy and is living with his parents, who own a home better suited for him to move in his wheelchair.
After Manteufel’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe was set up to help the family with medical costs, and Manteufel hopes to be fitted for leg and hand prosthetics in the near future. Manteufel’s biker friends will host a charity ride in his honor on October 6 to raise money for his recovery.
Speaking to PEOPLE from the hospital in August, days after his amputations, Manteufel kept a positive attitude and expressed gratitude for having survived.
“I’m good to go. My mind is right, I’m not looking back one minute,” he said then. “It sucks, but what are you gonna do, you know? My mind’s been 100 percent positive through all of this. Looking back is going to get you nowhere.”