This dangerous bacterium was found in the oral cavity of pets. Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a gram-negative bacillus that evades the immune system’s attacks by producing toxins. The pathogen disrupts the work of blood vessels, causing the formation of small hemorrhages, organ failure, and gangrene (Hannon et al., 2017). These bacteria are also very fastidious, slow-growing rods of the genus Capnocytophaga.
This bacterium belongs to the family Flavobacteriaceae, order Flavobacteriales, class Flavobacteria, type Bacteroidetes. Members of this genus – long, thin, spindle-shaped rods – are facultative anaerobes and grow better in an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide. Capnocytophaga was first isolated in culture from a person’s blood and cerebrospinal fluid bitten by a dog.
Who is at risk?
Capnocytophages are very dangerous for people with immunodeficiency, including HIV patients, people who have undergone organ transplants, patients with certain autoimmune diseases, and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, sometimes capnocytophages also affect people with a healthy immune system, leading to sepsis, meningitis, or endocarditis. The infection is transmitted through bites and licking. It is important to note that bacteria are harmless to animals.
Symptoms of infection with capnocytophages usually appear within the first week after close contact with the animal carrying the infection. In the article under research, Valle (2019) talks about a case where a woman became infected by her dog, subsequently losing her arms and legs. Bullous rashes may appear around the site of infection, through which the bacteria entered the body. Edema, redness develop, and pus begins to stand out from the site of the injury.
The disease is treated with antibiotics for at least three weeks, and the dead tissues affected by the infection are removed.
Thus, a bacterium that does not cause any harm to its carriers can be harmful to humans. In some cases, patients may lose limbs, and in others, a fatal outcome cannot be avoided. Therefore, it is necessary to educate people about this infection and conduct regular examinations of their pets.
Hannon, D. M., Harkin, E., Donnachie, K., Sibartie, S., Doyle, M., & Chan, G. (2020). A case of Capnocytophaga canimorsus meningitis and bacteremia. Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971-), 189(1).
Valle, L. (2019). A woman lost her hands and legs to an infection from puppy kisses. CNN. Web.