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German man dies from rare infection after being licked by pet dog

BREMEN (Germany) — A 63-year-old otherwise healthy German man died from a rare infection he developed after his dog licked him, according to a report in a medical journal.

A picture of the man's right forearm and hand (left) after one week.

A picture of the man's right forearm and hand (left) after one week.

BREMEN (Germany) — A 63-year-old otherwise healthy German man died from a rare infection he developed after his dog licked him, according to a report in a medical journal.

The man had a fever, trouble breathing, leg pain and a rash of purplish-red splotches on his face and legs, the report in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine said last month.

Doctors at the hospital also determined that he had severe kidney injury, signs of liver dysfunction as well as rhabdomyolsis — a deterioration of muscle tissue that can result in kidney failure. The man also had a build-up of lactic acid in his bloodstream. 

Despite being admitted to the intensive care unit, where he was treated with antibiotics, his condition continued to worsen and the man died from multi-organ failure 16 days later. 

Doctors initially had no idea what caused the man’s symptoms, but later determined that he had been infected with Capnocytophaga canimorsus (C canimorsus), a germ commonly found in the mouths of healthy dogs and cats. 

The infection — which is rare and usually causes no harm to either the animals or their owners — is most frequently transmitted by dog bites. 

It is also more frequently reported in patients with compromised immune systems, spleen or alcohol-abuse issues. 

But the report found that the man did not have any of these symptoms. 

In the weeks before his death, he had only been touched and licked but not bitten or injured by his dog, which was his only pet. The report did not state what type of dog it was.  

C canimorsus is fatal in about 25 per cent of patients, the report said. While severe C canimorsus infections without biting or scratching have been reported, they are very rare, it added. 

The journal warned pet owners suffering from apparently “banal” symptoms, such as flu-like symptoms, to “urgently seek medical advice when symptoms are unusual”. WITH AGENCIES

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