An elderly woman contracted a life-threatening infection from her household per, an Italian greyhound. She was admitted to intensive care due to organ failure.
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.
‘The 70-year-old patient developed sepsis from cavities in her dog's mouth that she often petted closely and let it lick her.’
Upon admission to hospital, her symptoms temporarily improved, but on the fourth day, she developed confusion, headache, diarrhea, and rigors, along with high fever. She was transferred to intensive care for kidney failure.
Blood cultures revealed Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a rare yet significant cause of sepsis. It is a bacterium frequently isolated in the oral cavities of cats and dogs. 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 another dog contact, have been documented.
"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 summarize important infections transmitted by cats and dogs.
The study appears in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.