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Man's Limbs Amputated Due Rare Blood Infection Caught From Dog Licks: What Is Capnocytophaga?

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A Wisconsin man had to have his four limbs amputated after a dog’s lick transmitted a bacteria that caused a rare blood infection. What are some important things to know about Capnocytophaga?

Greg Manteufel’s Ordeal

On June 27, Greg Manteufel experienced flu-like symptoms, and by the next morning his temperature had spiked and he was already delirious. His wife Dawn noticed that he had developed several bruises all over his body when they reached the hospital, and it was also there that doctors told them that Greg was experiencing septic shock caused by Capnocytophaga Canimorsus.

Evidently, Greg caught the bacteria from being in close contact with a dog, likely from a lick that caused the saliva to seep into his bloodstream. The couple, however, could not determine which dog it was that he caught the infection from as he is said to have been in contact with eight dogs including their own.

Doctors gave him antibiotics to stop the infection, but the clots resulted in blockages in the bloodflow to his extremities, causing muscles and tissue to die. As a result, doctors had to amputate both legs and both hands. His nose also requires surgery as the infection caused it to turn black.

That said, Greg is said to remain rather positive despite his ordeal, and is ready to face his new life. His family set up a GoFundMe page to help with the medical bills, as well as for prosthetic limbs.

Capnocytophaga

Capnocytophaga canimorsus is actually a fairly common bacteria that can be found in the saliva of dogs and cats. In fact, up to 74 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats have these bacteria in their mouths. These bacteria do not cause dogs and cats to be ill, and while it can be passed onto humans through bites, scratches and, close contact, such occurrences are rare. In Greg Manteufel’s case, his doctors described his condition as a “crazy fluke.”

That said, the bacteria is said to be opportunistic, so people with weakened immune systems such as those who have cancer, those who drink alcohol excessively, or those taking medications such as steroids are more at risk of getting the infection.

In such cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause septicemia or blood infection, inflammation of the heart’s lining, abscess collection in various bodily tissues, or inflammation of the face, eye, lymph nodes, or brain membranes. In pregnant women, a capnocytophaga infection may cause serious illness in the woman and her fetus. If the infection occurs during the last weeks of pregnancy, this may lead to an inflammation in the membranes surrounding the fetus, and sepsis in the newborn.

Humans may also carry other Capnocytophaga species in the mouth and may also cause illness in some people. Most of such infections occur in the mouth and throat, and cause eye infections, respiratory infections, and gum disease.

In the case of pets, they may be given medication to get rid of the bacteria for a short time, but it is likely that they will get the bacteria again after being in contact with other animals. As such, it’s important to be very careful when in contact with pets, especially if one has a compromised health status.

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