Infection from pets: women had to have both hands and legs amputated

Infection from pets: women had to have both hands and legs amputated

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Woman loses hands and legs after being infected by dog ​​saliva

A woman in the United States had to have both hands and legs amputated after infection with a dangerous bacterium. Apparently she was infected by her dog's saliva. The pathogen discovered in the patient can also have life-threatening consequences.

Infection from your pet's saliva

A woman in Ohio had amputated both hands and legs after a dog's saliva infection - probably after one of her beloved pets licked her, reports Yahoo! News ". Marie Trainer told Fox 8 News that her terrible ordeal started when she and her husband returned from a Caribbean vacation earlier this year.

The patient initially thought of flu

When Ms. Trainer started to experience nausea and back pain, she initially thought she had the flu. But when her temperature started to fluctuate, she went to a hospital.

It quickly got worse there. Within a few hours, she developed sepsis (blood poisoning).

When her limbs began to deteriorate due to gangrene, the doctors put the woman in a medically induced coma that lasted ten days.

"When I opened my eyes, I didn't know where I was," said the coach. "Then I found out everything ... It was very difficult when I found that they had to remove my legs and arms ... very difficult to manage," she continued.

The patient spent a total of 80 days in the hospital.

Blood tests showed that she was infected with the Capnocytophaga bacterium.

Ms. Trainer's doctors suspect that one of her dogs licked a small scratch on her arm, which resulted in blood clots that are typical of the infection.

Even though the doctors removed as many blood clots as possible to save their lives, it was too late to save their limbs.

Infection can be fatal

The Capnocytophaga bacterium occurs in the mouth of dogs and cats.

"In its natural environment, the dog's or cat's mouth, the bacterium Capnocytophaga canimorsus does no harm," explains the University of Basel on its website.

"But if the pathogen gets into human tissue and blood through a bite or scratch, it can lead to serious illnesses," write the experts.

"In the absence of antibiotic treatment, the bacteria can multiply unhindered and trigger dangerous infections such as gangrene, blood poisoning, meningitis or endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart," it continues.

According to the Swiss university, an infection with the bacterium can also lead to death in extreme cases.

With an intact immune system, there is usually no danger

According to the Yahoo News! Sumon Chakrabarti, specialist for infectious diseases and tropical medicine at Trillium Health Partners - Mississauga Hospital in Canada, that some species of Capnocytophaga also occur in the human oral flora.

"Humans can also be exposed to animal versions of the bacterium through contact with saliva from cats or dogs," says Chakrabarti.

“This can happen through a bite, lick, or scratch, usually from a dog. Most forms of capnocytophaga from the mouth of animals do not cause disease in humans, and most people with normal immune systems do not become ill through exposure, ”said the doctor.

According to the specialist, Capnocytophaga usually only cause serious infections in people with specific health problems such as advanced liver disease, asplenia (inactivity of the spleen) or heavy alcohol consumption.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), people with a weakened immune system - for example as a result of cancer or HIV infection - are at greater risk of disease.

First signs

If you are infected with Capnocytophaga, blisters will appear around the bite wound, for example after a bite by a cat or dog.

Other signs may include the following symptoms: redness, swelling, pus or pain in the bite wound, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, confusion and muscle and joint pain.

Most people who get sick show symptoms within three to five days of a bite, according to the information.

Infections that lead to sepsis can lead to death within 24 to 72 hours of the onset of symptoms, according to the report.

Avoid infections

The CDC recommends washing a bite wound immediately with soap and water.

The best way to avoid infection is to avoid bites, scratches, and licks from cats and dogs, Chakrabarti said.

He advises patients who do not have a functioning spleen to avoid close contact with these animals.

When someone with a particularly sensitive health condition is bitten by a cat or dog, they generally prescribe short antibiotic therapy to prevent infection.

"As a doctor for infectious diseases, I recommend that people don't let animals lick them," says Chakrabarti.

But: “It is important to remember that this is an extremely rare disease that affects people with certain health problems. If you do not have any of the above problems, you can still let your dog or cat lick you without the risk of serious problems. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University of Basel: From animals to humans: How dangerous are bacteria ?, (accessed: August 13, 2019), University of Basel

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