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Pet Owners Warned As Man Dies After Being Licked By Dog

A man suffered fatal septic shock after being licked by his dog, in a case which has doctors warning pet owners to be aware of even minor symptoms.

Experts from the Rotes Kreuz Krankenhaus -- Red Cross Hospital -- in Bremen, Germany, have published a paper on the case of a 63-year-old man who died of a rare skin infection which caused multi-organ failure.

Doctors were not able to save the man, who was found to have contracted a bacteria known as capnocytophaga canimorsus.

The most severe types of these infections are found in patients exhibiting immunodeficiency, splenectomy or alcohol abuse.

However, this man was found to have none of these issues, leaving doctors to blame a lesser-known source of the infection -- transmission from a dog or cat bite.

The authors laid out that even being licked can be fatal. Image: Getty

The man had a pet dog but had not been bitten, with doctors theorising that even being licked by the animal could have led to the man's death.

The paper, titled 'Being Licked by a Dog Can Be Fatal', was published in an October issue of the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine.

In it, the authors claimed that the man presented to hospital with "flu-like symptoms" including fever, and later was found to have developed severe sepsis and purpura fulminans -- a disorder linked to blood clots, presenting as bruising and blood spots on the skin, and which leads to necrosis of the skin.

Image: European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine

"He had been touched and licked, but not bitten or injured, by his dog, his only pet, in previous weeks," the authors said.

The man was initially diagnosed with severe sepsis, but by the next day, his condition considerably worsened.

He suffered a heart attack, worsening blood spots and low blood pressure, before tests finally returned the result of capnocytophaga canimorsus.

Doctors found the man had only been licked, not bitten, by his pet dog. Image: Getty

This puzzled doctors, as his history and test results "indicated no immunodeficiency, asplenia or alcohol abuse" -- the more common roots of such a bacterial issue.

It's claimed the man's condition kept worsening, including all his limbs turning gangrenous. After scans showed he had suffered a serious injury linked to swelling and a lack of oxygen to the brain, his family made a decision to stop treatment.

"The patient died after 16 days of treatment," the paper's authors said.

Image: Getty

The authors recommend that anyone with pets should "urgently seek medical advice" if experiencing unusually strong flu-like symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or spots on the skin.

"Physicians confronted with such patients should ask about contact with dogs and cats," the authors said.