Dog lovers, beware: Your pet may make you critically ill

  • ANI, Washington
  • Updated: Jul 01, 2016 13:47 IST
Everyday exposure to dogs can make you unwell. (Shutterstock)

People who are exposed to dogs in their everyday lives should be careful as close interactions with their pets can prove to be life threatening.

Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a rare yet significant cause of sepsis, is a bacterium frequently isolated in the oral cavities of cats and dogs, and can make you terribly sick.

An elderly woman was admitted to intensive care due to organ failure following a rare, yet potentially life-threatening infection believed to be transmitted by her household pet, an Italian greyhound.

Read: You might love cuddling your pet dog, but guess what, it does not

Doctors who treated the 70-year-old patient explained that she developed acute kidney failure after a few days of being admitted to hospital.

Paramedics discovered her slumped in a chair, with decreased consciousness, after she had slurred speech and became unresponsive while on the telephone to a relative.

Upon admission to hospital, her symptoms temporarily improved, but on the fourth day, she developed confusion, headache, diarrhoea, and rigors, along with high fever. She was transferred to intensive care for kidney failure.

Though the chances are rare, but Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacterium frequently isolated in the oral cavities of cats and dogs, can make you terribly sick. (Shutterstock)

Blood cultures revealed Capnocytophaga canimorsus was responsible for her rare illness.

After two weeks of intensive care and antibiotic treatment, the patient made a full recovery.

Only 13 cases of sepsis related to C. canimorsus have been reported in the UK since 1990. Mortality rates of 26 percent, with 60 percent of cases reporting a dog bite and 24 percent reporting other dog contact, have been documented.

Read: Dog owners: Actually, your pet can help you cope with rejection!

“This is an interesting case”, the doctors explain, “because neither scratch nor bite was established, although close petting including licks was reported.”

Diseases which can be transmitted to humans from animals are frequently missed diagnoses, explain the doctors, and they summarise important infections transmitted by cats and dogs.

The study appears in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.

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