A pet owner died from a rare bacterial infection that rotted his skin after being licked by his dog.
The previously healthy 63-year-old spent more than a fortnight in hospital as he developed pneumonia, gangrene and fungal infections in his lungs, brought on by a destructive bug in the animal’s saliva.
The man, who has not been identified, was infected with Capnocytophaga canimorsus. The bacteria is normally transmitted through dog bites but confounded doctors when it was contracted by a simple lick.
He had already developed severe sepsis before starting medical treatment.
The shocking death prompted doctors to recommend pet owners with flu-like symptoms which ‘exceed those of a simple viral infection’ to seek immediate help.His illness, first reported in a medical journal by doctors from Rote Kreuz Krankenhaus in Bremen, has caused surprise as there was no sign of an open wound which would have been expected in a serious infection.
Licking would only be expected to transmit small numbers of bacteria of the bug that only affects one in every 1.5 million people, according to a Dutch study. It kills about a third of those infected.
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The man’s condition deteriorated in hospital, first with a rash then with nerve pain and bruises. His organs soon began to shut down, his blood clotted and skin rotted away, before he suffered a heart attack.He was resuscitated but developed a fungal infection in his lungs and blisters across his entire body. Scans found fluid build up in his brain.
Sixteen days after being admitted to hospital, and having contracted MRSA, doctors and family turned off his life support.