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Man loses limbs after contracting an infection from a dog lick

Published Jul 31st, 2018 3:22PM EDT
dog bacteria
Image: ETersigni

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Everyone loves dogs. Okay, maybe not everyone, but lots and lots of people consider a canine companion a member of their own family, and having a dog can be a fun, fulfilling experience. Unfortunately for one Wisconsin resident, an innocent lick from man’s best friend likely ended up costing him some body parts, and nearly cost him his life.

Greg Manteufel reportedly began developing flu-like symptoms a few weeks ago. Just hours afterwards, Manteufel was rushed to the emergency room with bizarre bruising and extremely low blood pressure. He had developed a severe infection of the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is common in dog saliva, and that infection turned septic. Now, after losing both legs and parts of both hands as well as his nose, Manteufel faces a long road to recovery and rehabilitation.

Exactly how Manteufel contracted the bacteria is unknown, but doctors suspect that a lick from his own dog likely started the entire process. Any wound, even a tiny one which is not fully healed, can be a gateway for bacteria, and Manteufel’s own pooch is the likely source of the bacteria. The majority of dogs are known to carry the Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria in their mouths, and a quick lick is all it would take for that bacteria to be transmitted.

When his blood pressure dropped severely as a result of the septic infection, his limbs began to die. Severe damage occurred to his legs and arms. Doctors were forced to amputate his legs through the kneecap, and damage to his hands necessitates amputation of fingers. His nose also suffered tissue damage, and he will need plastic surgery to be able to breath normally again.

The family has since set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the operations and rehabilitation that Manteufel will need, and it’s already raised over $10,000. That’s a small comfort considering the incredibly rough road that he has endured thus far, and he’s not out of the woods yet.

Septic infections of Capnocytophaga canimorsus from dog saliva are quite rare, despite most dogs and some cats carrying the bacteria in their mouths. Less than 1,000 cases of such infections from non-bite wounds have been documented in North America since doctors began tracking it in the mid-1970s.

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