An infection from dog spikes resulted in an Ohio woman spending 10 days in a coma and 80 days in hospital after losing her arms and legs. An Ohio woman woke up from a coma to find both her legs had to be amputated. The woman said she had no recollection of what happened but remembered feeling sick.
Marie Traine and her husband returned home from holiday and said she had nausea, back pain and fluctuating temperatures. After she went to the emergency room, her condition deteriorated rapidly. Doctors discovered she had tested positive for capnocytophaga, a type of bacteria in the mouths of mammals, dogs, cats, humans and rabbits. She developed sepsis, the physical reaction to a serious infection that can lead to organ failure and death.
Despite improvements, Trainer developed gangrene and the tissue began to die as a result of the infection. She began to develop blood clots and doctors amputated her limbs to prevent her death. It was hard to work out why they removed her legs and arms, which she described as a huge understatement for years. She said the two dogs would lick her all the time.
Capnocytophaga is a bacterial species that lives in the mouth of mammals and in the saliva of most cats and dogs. It is very rare for it to spread to humans and cause an infection that can lead to serious complications, including sepsis. There are various types of capnocytsophaga, some of which occur in the oral cavity of humans. C. canimorsus and C. cynodegmi are species that are associated with animals, and although they can make people sick, they do not affect animals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with a weakened immune system are at higher risk of cancer. This includes people who drink alcohol or who have had their spleens removed due to HIV or cancer.
Capnocytophaga can cause life-threatening complications including heart attacks, kidney failure and gangrene in the case of the trainer. Most reported infections occur in the mouth and throat tissue, including the gums, nose, throat, lungs and eyes. The bacteria enter the bloodstream, leading to infections. The disease can be transmitted through bites and scratches, and humans can become infected through close contact with dogs and cats.
In Trainer’s case, doctors believe her two dogs licked a small scratch on her arm that turned into a life-threatening infection. The infection can progress to the point of sepsis within 24 to 72 hours of symptoms starting, although it can take three days to two weeks to appear.
As alarming as it may sound, only about 30 percent of people who develop serious infections as a result of capnocytophaga, die. The disease is so rare that in 1976 only 200 cases were reported, and this number could be even higher if their cases were not reported or not recognized by doctors, but the disease can lead to sepsis and other life-threatening conditions. Unlike my co-owners, rabbit bacteria transmitted by rabbits are rare in dogs. It is estimated that 84 percent of cats and 86 percent of dogs have the bacteria.
If you have young children, show them how to handle animals and never introduce them to a new animal without first doing so. Train your pet to understand how to deal with yourself, as most pets whip when they feel unsafe or threatened. Avoiding bites and scratches is also important.
Before buying a new animal, ensure that it is examined by an experienced veterinarian to make sure there are no physical or behavioral problems which can lead to an increased risk of biting or scratching. Some animals strike out when in physical pain. It is a good idea to cover broken skin with clothing or bandages when dealing with the animal to prevent possible transmission.
If it is a wild animal and you are not sure if it has been vaccinated against rabies, you should call your doctor. Remember that people don’t need to have a bit of experience with transmission. You just have to have experience with scratches and bites like we do.
If your pet has been bitten or scratched by a pet, cases of transmission are rare, but if you are concerned about its welfare, you should consult your experienced veterinarian. If capnocytophaga is present in an animal’s mouth, you don’t have to worry that your pet has it. If you show symptoms within two weeks, see an emergency doctor and tell your doctor that you have been scratched, bitten or licked by an animal. Licking can expose you to the disease.
In Trainer’s case, doctors were unable to save her arms and legs as her infection progressed. She says her husband helps her look after her, feed her and dress her. If they can’t get rid of their dog, they should explore prosthetic ways to walk again.