Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a type of bacterium that exists in the mouths of healthy dogs and cats. It is rod-shaped and is able to grow rapidly in the right conditions. This bacterium can cause sepsis in humans after an animal bite. This pathogen has a unique shape and outer layer and can cause serious illness if not treated quickly and effectively.
This organism is a Gram-negative bacillus, meaning it does not retain the color die used in a laboratory Gram staining test. This test identifies different types of bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have a greasy outer layer that can make them resistant to antibiotics such as penicillin. For this reason, the treatment of diseases caused by this type of bacteria is much more difficult.
Because the disease caused by capnocytophage canimorsus can be transmitted from animals to humans, it is known as zoonotic disease. This sepsis can be fatal in humans and can be misdiagnosed because symptoms often vary. Known signs of Capnocytophaga canimorsus sepsis include severe diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal tenderness, high blood pressure, and rapid heart rate. Patients may also present with high fever, organ failure, cardiac arrest, and coma.
The most susceptible to Capnocytophaga canimorsus infection are those with limited or no splenic function. These asplenic patients may have had their spleen removed due to trauma, illness, or genetic disorders, or in cases where spleen function aggravates another medical problem. People who are immunocompromised due to illness or age are also more likely to suffer after a dog bite. Therefore, it is recommended for anyone with a weakened immune system not to have a dog.
It is not always necessary for an animal bite to occur for Capnocytophaga canimorsus to be transmitted. In one case, a man with a history of spleen removal fell into his hands in a recent accident. He had minor open wounds on his hands that later licked a relative’s dog. The dog’s mouth harbored the bacterium and the man subsequently suffered from sepsis. However, he was able to recover after timely antibiotic treatment.
Although dog bite sepsis is relatively rare, it is a serious disease that can spread quickly through the bloodstream and affect the entire body. Several different antibiotics, such as doxycline and clindamycin, can be used in the treatment of capnocytophaga canimorsus sepsis. Patients may also benefit from blood and plasma transfusions in more severe cases of infection.