Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Dog Licking Turns to Fatal Infection

Posted by Charles Gilman | Aug 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The number of dog bite injuries has increased over the years. As a result, dog bite injury claims for home insurance have also been on the rise, with the average cost up 90% between 2003 and 2017. Most accidents and injuries caused by dogs involve bites. However, a rare condition can lead to serious infection after being licked by a dog.

Death After Dog Licking Caused by Rare Infection

According to USA Today, a 63-year-old man in German died after contracting a rare bacterial infection. The otherwise healthy man began to suffer symptoms of a serious infection, including fever, difficulty breathing, blood spots, and pain in the legs. Doctors at the hospital in Bremen said he had been licked by his dog but had not been bitten or injured. 

Over the next day and a half, the man's symptoms began to worsen, he developed encephalopathy, brain damage, paralysis, and cardiac arrest. The man remained hospitalized for more than 2 weeks before he eventually died.  

Bacterial Infection in Dog Saliva

According to the doctors, the man died after becoming infected by capnocytophaga canimorsus, a rare bacteria that can occur in dog and cat mouths. The bacteria is generally transmitted to humans through dog bites, where the teeth press the bacteria deep into the skin. However, some people are prone to the infection through the saliva even without a bite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), capnocytophaga canimorsus can be more serious for people with weakened immune systems, including individuals with:

  • History of alcoholism
  • Spleen removed
  • HIV infection
  • Cancer 

Signs and symptoms of the bacterial infection usually begin within 3 to 5 days, and can include:

  • Blisters around the bite wound within hours of the bite
  • Redness, swelling, draining pus, or pain at the bite wound
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache and/or confusion
  • Muscle or joint pain

Sepsis After Dog Saliva Infection

A woman in Milwaukee died after being infected by a minor dog bite from her new pet. The 58-year-old woman began to suffer flu-like symptoms that grew more serious. Eventually, she complained that she felt like she lost her right arm and she was rushed to the hospital. The doctors told her husband that her kidneys were failing. She was treated with antibiotics but died the next day. 

Dog Lick Leads to Amputation

A man in Wisconsin had to have his legs and hands amputated after becoming infected with the same disease, after his dog had licked him. Like others who are infected with capnocytophaga, it began with flu-like symptoms, including aches and vomiting. The next day, he could barely walk or speak coherently and was taken to the hospital. 

Doctors determined that the man has sepsis and he had to be treated with antibiotics and surgery. His legs were amputated below the knees, his hands were removed, and a portion of his nose was also amputated.

Dog Bite Injury Lawyers

If you or a loved one was injured in a dog bite accident, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about getting compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. You should not have to suffer because of a dog owner's reckless behavior. Do not hesitate to contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.

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