- Shutterstock/J.P. Mitchell
- Greg Manteufel, a 48-year-old Wisconsin man, recently had to have both of his hands and his legs amputated after contracting a bacterial infection, most likely from a dog’s licks.
- Up to 74% of dogs and 57% of cats carry the bacteria that can cause these infections, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, but in most cases, people only get infected after being bitten.
- Approximately 30% of people who do get infected die, which is why it’s essential to see a doctor if you are bitten by an animal.
The vast majority of the time, a lick from a dog is totally harmless.
But in exceedingly rare circumstances, that lick can lead to a dangerous and potentially lethal infection from a common bacteria.
Greg Manteufel, a 48-year-old Wisconsin man, recently had to have both of his hands and his legs amputated after contracting the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus. That most likely came from the tongue of a dog, potentially his own, according to local news reports.
“This type of bacteria comes from the saliva of dogs,” infectious disease specialist Silvia Munoz-Price of the medical college of Wisconsin told a local FOX station. “This infection in his blood triggered a very severe response on his body.”
According to a GoFundMe page that’s raising money for Manteufel, he started to feel flu-like symptoms on June 27. Within hours, he started to go into septic shock, with a rapid drop in blood pressure and bruises appearing all over his body.
He first had to have his feet amputated, then his legs up to the kneecaps, then his hands and portions of his arms. He will still need plastic surgery to rebuild his nose, according to the GoFundMe page.
A rare but dangerous infection
Up to 74% of dogs and 57% of cats have Capnocytophaga bacteria in their mouths, according to the CDC.
The vast majority of infections come from a dog or cat bite, which is why medical professionals urge anyone who has been bitten to contact their doctor immediately. Infections can take up to two weeks to show up. Approximately 30% of people who get infected die, some within a day of symptoms first showing up.
Symptoms of the infection include blisters around a bite wound, redness, swelling, pus, pain, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, and muscle and joint pain.
In very rare cases, a person can get infected without being bitten. These infections are more likely in people over 40 who have an immuno-compromised condition, or in people who excessively use alcohol or who have had their spleen removed, according to the CDC.
A 2015 study in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Disease described the pathogen as an “emerging cause” of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection that can lead to septic shock. That’s what happened in Manteufel’s case. A report in the journal BMJ Case Reports in 2016 said these infections were an important cause of sepsis in the elderly, and described them as the “lick of death.”
Manteufel has survived so far after being treated with antibiotics, though he has a long recovery ahead. As of Wednesday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $50,000 of its $100,000 goal.