Warning After Woman Loses Hands And Legs From Puppy Lick
Marie Trainer was welcomed home from her holiday by two excited dogs, the next day she was rushed to hospital.
The hairstylist from Ohio remembers coming down with flu-like symptoms such as feeling nauseous and achy.
Shortly after she lay down to rest she was rushed to hospital by her concerned husband after her temperature peaked before plummeting.
Ten days later she woke from a coma with both arms and legs partially amputated.
"When I opened my eyes I didn't know where I was," Trainer told Fox 8 Cleveland. "It was very hard to find out that they had to remove my legs and my arms. Very hard to cope with."
It took doctors several days to discover that Trainer hadn't incurred the severe infection from a tropical travel disease but from her German Shepherds' kisses. The incident took place in May.
It's understood her dogs may have accidentally licked a small scrape on her arm causing an infection from a bacteria called capnocytophaga canimorsus.
Many healthy cats, dogs and even humans have traces of the bacteria in their mouths and while it's not usually harmful, in rare cases, like Trainer's, it can poison the blood.
The infection began to attack small vessels in her arms, hands, legs and feet, her limbs turned necrotic and then gangrene -- without amputation, she would have died.
Trainer was in the hospital for 80 days, she underwent at least eight surgeries and is working with doctors to be fitted for prosthesis'.
"It was just a random and rare occurrence that caused the perfect storm within her body resulting in the devastating illness," husband Matthew Trainer wrote on a GoFundMe page which has raised more than US$27,000.
A similar case was reported last year in Wisconsin. A few days after being licked by his dog, the bacteria had spread through the man's body and the man was fighting for his life. He too lost his limbs.
Meanwhile, in 2016 the British Medical Journal's BMJ Case Reports published a study detailing a similar incident with a 70-year-old woman in the U.K.
She developed confusion, a headache, diarrhoea, a high fever and eventually sepsis and organ failure but recovered after two weeks of intensive care treatment and antibiotics.
Lead author of the paper Dr James Wilson told The Conversation that while a handful of cases were reported, "you are about 150 times more likely to be struck by lightning."
Should We Be Worried?
Unless you are immunocompromised, the simple answer is no.
Capnocytophaga is extremely rare, so much so that there are hardly any documented cases in Australia, but experts say it's important to be aware of the infection.
"Saliva will carry lots of different bacteria and potential pathogens and if one is in a decent state of health it shouldn't have an impact," Michael Wallach from the School of Live Sciences told 10Daily.
He explained that those with any sort of immunity compromises such as those with cancer, HIV or diabetes, should be careful at all times around pets, so too should children.
"Millions of pet owners let their pets lick them every day without trouble," he said.
His best advice? Use common sense.
"Don't get panicky and don't leave things until it's too late, just use your common sense.
"If there are symptoms like fever, diarrhoea, pain or what have you, certainly get medical attention, and if you have an open wound keep it away from your pet and don't let it fester."
But he stressed that every sniffle or scratch is not a life-threatening infection.