Capnocytophaga, The Dog Bacteria You've Been Hearing About

Capnocytophaga, The Dog Bacteria You've Been Hearing About

A scary story that emerged out of Wisconsin in August of last year is making rounds again this 2019 - a bacteria contained in cat and dog saliva has the capability of harming and killing humans. Is this true? Experts say that it probably isn't but we're here to give you the details on this buzzing story around bacteria. 

What Is Capnocytophaga?

Varying types of the capnocytophaga bacteria exist in the mouths of cat's and dogs and actually do exist in some humans. This bacteria doesn't harm our pets and they rarely infect humans. Experts compare the odds of contracting these bacteria from your pet to getting struck by lightning. Extremely rare, but potentially deadly when it occurs.

Who does it effect? Well, healthy people can get the bacteria, but individuals who have trouble fighting off infections or possess weakened immune systems are at a much higher risk, especially if they are bitten by a dog.

The bacteria is spread through saliva, and most cases occur after a bite wound although it can be transmitted simply by a lick even though it is much less common. We suggest being very strict about your hygiene when it comes to being licked by your pet. Heart attacks, gangrene-induced amputations, and kidney failure have been reported, and 3-in-10 people who are infected die from the bacteria.

Symptoms in humans may include things like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches or confusion, and redness or swelling around the bite wound. 

Should We Be Worried?

Although it does have some pretty dire results, Capnocytophaga has been around for a long time and is an extremely rare condition to acquire. A best practice we suggest is to always contact a medical professional immediately if you've been bitten by a cat or dog, no matter the severity of the wound. We also recommend maintaining proper grooming and hygiene practices for both you, your family, and your pet! 


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