A report from Seattlepi.com is a textbook example of what can happen to certain people after dog bites. Mike Moore tried to break up a fight involving his two dogs and received a minor bite. It barely broke the skin. No big deal, eh? Well, perhaps for most people, but unfortunately not for Mr. Moore.
He cleaned the wound and didn’t think much about it. Two days later, he thought he had the flu. The next day, he was worse and went to the hospital. By the time he arrived, “his face and body had a bluish tint” …never a good sign. When he was being examined, he was asked about the scar on his abdomen and he told the hospital staff it was from his spleen having been removed. They then asked about the bandage on his hand and he mentioned the dog bite. (Insert big ringing bells here!) The article says that the medical staff couldn’t pinpoint the problem right away, but hopefully Capnocytophaga was a leading thought. Mr. Moore was critically ill by this point with multiple failing organs. He was admitted to ICU, became septic (overwhelming infection in his bloodstream) and was put on a ventilator. His hand had to be amputated, as did both legs below the knee and three fingers on the remaining hand. But he survived. (Despite the obvious long-term problems, he’s very lucky to be alive after such a severe infection).
People that have had their spleens removed or who have non-functional spleens are at much greater risk for various infections, such as Capnocytophaga infections. No one should be allowed to leave a hospital after having their spleen removed without a letter saying, among other things, if you are bitten by a dog, get thee to a physician (pronto)! If you don’t have a functioning spleen, make sure you know the risks and how to protect your health.
More information about Capnocytophaga and bites can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources page and in our archives.