In 2018, a Wisconsin man, Greg Manteufel attended a birthday party where he played with several dogs.
A few days later, he fell critically ill with a rare blood infection caused by a bacteria called capnocytophaga, which is found in dog saliva.
Capnocytophaga can in some cases lead to severe illness and sepsis in humans, especially those with weakened immune systems.
After likely coming into contact with the bacteria through dog saliva at the party, Manteufel developed flu-like symptoms.
His condition then rapidly deteriorated – his blood platelet count dropped dangerously low, putting his life at risk.
The condition can also present other symptoms such as fevers, diarrhea, headaches and vomiting.
Despite doctors’ best efforts, the infection led to gangrene, forcing them to amputate Manteufel’s forearms, legs, and parts of his nose in order to save his life.
While pet owners should not panic, Manteufel’s story serves as an important reminder to take precautions around our favourite pets.
People with weakened immune systems should be particularly mindful of this risk and consider avoiding very close interactions with dogs or puppies.
More importantly, washing hands after playing with dogs can reduce the very small risk of disease transmission from licks or close contact.
As for Manteufel, he is learning to resume normal activities using prostectic legs and arms.