AUG 03, 2018 3:52 PM PDT

Dog Lick Leads to Limb Amputation

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A man’s limbs had to be amputated after he had a severe reaction to a bacterial infection that was traced back to a dog lick. Greg Manteufel, 48, of Wisconsin, needed to have part of his legs and arms amputated after his unusually severe infection. The bacterium, capnocytophaga, commonly lives in the mouths of over 50 percent of cats and about 74 percent of dogs. Another species of the bacterium lives in human mouths too.

Usually, these infections occur after a dog bite, when the bacterium enters the bloodstream. People typically don’t have to worry about the germ entering their blood because of a lick, and it seems that it doesn’t present a danger to most individuals. 

“It’s just really, really, really rare,” Scott Weese, a professor at Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses told Huffington Post. “The risk posed by a dog is really low. Most dogs are carrying this bug in their mouth, but few people get sick.”

It’s thought that those who do contract the bug can have major problems. Around three of ten people that are affected end up dying from the illness. It can escalate very quickly as well, with some cases causing death within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. 

It may also be, however, that many other cases occur, but don’t cause symptoms that are severe enough to warrant detection of the bug. Because of that, the pathogen would seem deadly because the only statistics would come from the worst infections.

“If it causes a sporadic flu-like illness, that’s never going to get diagnosed,” Weese noted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some recommendations for preventing dog bites, and what to do if they happen, which includes ensuring that the biting dog has been vaccinated for rabies.  Rabies is unusual, but it still occurs in the United States. People that are bitten may also want to notify local authorities.

If there is swelling, redness, or pus around the bite wound or other symptoms like vomiting or stomach cramps happen, dog bite victims are advised to seek medical attention. Other than the rare cases of capnocytophaga infection, dog bites can also transmit other pathogens like MRSA and Clostridium tetani, which makes the tetanus toxin.

Manteufel’s condition is unusual. People should not be alarmed by this news. “I would never, ever think that somebody should give up their dog or cat,” Jennifer McQuiston, a veterinarian and epidemiologist for the CDC told HuffPo.

People that are unfamiliar with dogs can get some tips about how to approach them from the video.

Sources: CDC, Huffington Post

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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