People often claim that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than a human’s mouth. As much as we all love our devoted, furry companions, that simply isn’t true. Though most people don’t get sick when their dog licks them, there are those rare cases where a human can become seriously ill from canine saliva. One woman recently lost her hands and legs to a bacteria she picked up from her puppy.
The fight to save her
The woman, Marie Trainer, lives in Ohio. She had just come back from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. Trainer became nauseated and developed a backache that caused her to miss work. She went to the hospital after developing a fever that suddenly dropped. Doctors assumed she contracted something on her tropical getaway. According to them, she was delirious and fell unconscious. While in intensive care, she developed gangrene and then a blood clot.
Doctors eventually diagnosed her with capnocytophaga canimorsus. After nine days in treatment, they were forced to amputate her hands and legs to save her life. Her family tried to get a second opinion, not wanting her to undergo anything so drastic if it wasn’t necessary. However, the infection had also gone into her nose, ears, and face, but luckily those parts did not require surgery. She has since had eight surgeries as part of her treatment.
A mystery solved
Doctors considered multiple possibilities for the source of the bacteria. One doctor said it was one of the worst cases she’d dealt with as far as how sick Trainer became due to the infection. A week after the amputations, her medical team finally figured out that she developed the bacterial infection from her dog, a German shepherd puppy. The dog licked her, as dogs often do, and she happened to have an open cut that was slightly infected on her hand.
Most people don’t get sick from capnocytophaga unless their immune system is weak. The CDC says that the bacteria has been found in as many as 74% of dogs. Normally, if the bacteria infects a person, it is due to a bite, or scratch from a dog or cat. Symptoms can appear in just a few days and some people will develop sepsis. Thirty percent of those who get a severe infection do not survive.
A hopeful future
It shocked everyone to think that a woman lost her hands and legs to bacteria from her puppy.Trainer and her husband have received an outpouring of support from their community, with several people donating to cover her medical expenses. In the near future, she will be fitted for prosthetic legs, wrists, and hands, which will hopefully help her resume as normal a life as possible. As for her beloved dogs, she says she will not give them up. Her pups were even allowed to visit her while she was in treatment. We at Hot Mess Press wish her all the best with her continued recovery.