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Healthy Man Dies From Infection After Getting Licked By His Dog




  • The German patient complained of flu-like symptoms.
  • He was healthy and he was not bitten by his dog yet was found to have carried the bacterium commonly found in cats and dogs.
  • This was a very rare case of C. canimorsus infection but pet owners have been warned.

Doggie kisses – a lot of dog lovers like or welcome them. After all, it feels good to see that your dog is all over you, showing you some love. But should you really be kissing your dog or letting them lick your face (or even lips)? A recent report on the subject might make you want to reconsider getting doggie kisses.

One man has recently died after reportedly getting licked by his dog. The man, a 63-year-old German national, went to the hospital with complaints of burning sensation and muscle pain in his legs. He also complained of severe flu-like symptoms for three days and purplish spots that resemble rashes.

After a blood test was done, it was revealed that the man harbored bacteria found in the saliva of healthy cats and dogs.

This case was the subject of a medical study, which was published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine. With the lab test, doctors found that the patient was infected with the bacteria known as Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which can be transmitted to humans in “very rare” instances.

C. canimorsus bacteria usually thrive in the right conditions, but one can usually get it through an open wound, like a dog bite. This means one shouldn’t be able to get it through a dog lick, which makes this case baffling. Also, only immunocompromised people or those with weakened immune systems will get the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If one develops an infection from this bacteria, however, death can come so quickly. The bacteria can take one’s life within 72 hours after symptoms have shown. 

C. canimorsus bacterium is a normal part of a dog’s oral flora.

Cases of C. canimorsus infections are rare but well-documented. Most people who have contracted serious infections are usually those who have alcohol problems or immune system issues – neither of which the patient has.

The man was given antibiotics but his health continued to deteriorate. After 16 days of receiving care, the man died of multiple organ failure. As veterinary microbiology lecturer, Dr. Stephen Cole, said, the bacterium is a “completely normal flora of a dog’s mouth and usually doesn’t cause any sort of significant disease. However, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong patient … it can lead to severe infections — but very, very rarely.”

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