A deadly bacteria found in the saliva of a dog recently killed a woman from Wisconsin. The same bacteria had also left a Wisconsin man with an amputee after the infection set in. Here's everything that you need to know about the capnocytophaga — the bacteria that can actually kill you.
Capnocytophaga is a bacteria commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats. According to reports, the bacteria is simply harmless to the animals but it can be extremely harmful to humans who come in contact with them.
The bacteria typically spreads through an animal, like a bite or a lick on the face. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people do not detect anything even if they come in contact with such bacteria. However, if a person has an ailing immune system, then he or she will start showing symptoms.
The typical at-risk person would be someone with a disease like HIV, diabetes or people who are alcoholics. Even under those conditions, the chances of getting transmitted are highly rare.
What are the symptoms? According to Dr William Schaffner, a professor of infectious disease at Tennessee, the chances are very rare and he says that, "we don't know why some people get very ill from it and some don't. This can affect a perfectly normal person."
The most common symptoms with capnocytophaga include swelling or pain, blisters and redness around the bite wound. According to the CDC, the draining of pus is also extremely common and so is stomach pain, headache, confusion, joint pain, and diarrhoea.
"It's just a matter of chance if the dog or cat has sufficient amount of bacteria in the saliva, and if it was inoculated deeply enough to cause a problem," Schaffner told NBC News."It's a little bit like being struck by lightning."
According to a report on USA Today, Jennifer McQuiston — a leading expert on the bacteria, revealed that there are possible tests for your dogs or cats that will surely eradicate the bacteria for a temporary period of time. However, there are chances that the pet will get the bacteria again, especially if it comes in contact with other animals.
"In the vast majority of cases, people do not get sick from this. There are so many dogs and so many people and interactions with dogs, that tells you how rare this is. Pets play a really important part of human existence. The answer is not to get rid of your pet or test your dog," McQuiston added.