Capnocytophaga Infection From a Dog Bite

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Attorneys at Our Firm

As attorneys that represent dog bite victims, the Chicago injury firm of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. understands the consequences and complications that can arise due to an attack by an animal. Anytime the skin is punctured, the risk for infection should be a concern. However, when skin is pierced by the teeth or nails of an animal, there is cause for increased concern. We have all heard old saying—that a dog’s mouths is cleaner than a humans—well this wasn’t intended to mean that their germs would enter our bloodstream. Dog bites can cause serious infections, and therefore immediate treatment and careful monitoring are essential.

While Pasteurella is the most common infection in dog bites, followed closely by Streptococcus & Staphylococcus, with Neisseria coming in at third, there are actually dozens of other infections that can potentially occur as a result of a dog attack. Some infections are more concerning than others, not for their incidence rate, but for the dangers associated with them. Capnocytophaga is an example of a very rare, but highly dangerous infection. Capnocytophaga is a bacteria commonly present in the mouths/saliva of dogs and cats.

In many of the cases, the bite wounds were very small and would not have alerted the victim to seek special medical care. In other cases, Capnocytophaga infection can occur following a dog bite, as a result of bacteria entering the bloodstream at a later time. According to a 2006 publication by the CDC, which compiled 3 decades of study, the low correct identification rate (32%) of this infection, suggests that the frequency of Capnocytophaga in the general population may be underestimated. The dangers of this infection are demonstrated by considering the following:

  • Susceptibility. Certain persons are at increased risk for Capnocytophaga infection and its complications. In particular, person who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to this infection, such as those that have had their spleen removed, or that have liver disease.
  • Diagnosis. Capnocytophaga can be mistaken for other infections. Distinguishing between Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Capnocytophaga cynodegmi can be difficult, and requires special testing. In addition, Capnocytophaga can be mistaken for other infections. Further, growth in cultures can take days. As a result, there are concerns for misdiagnosis, as well as delayed diagnosis.
  • Consequences. Capnocytophaga has a 30% fatality rate, and has been identified as a pathogenic agent in variety of clinical conditions, including septicemia, peripheral gangrene, endocarditis, meningitis, purpura fulminas, and rare ocular infections.

Due to the increased susceptibility in certain patients, difficulty in diagnosis, and potential consequences, it is important to know the warning signs for Capnocytophaga infection following a dog bite. Early symptoms may include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headache, muscle aches, abdominal pain, confusion, shortness of breath, and tiny reddened patches on the skin.

If you have developed Capnocytophaga Infection, or another type of infection, as a result of a dog or other animal bite injury, contact the experienced Chicago lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. for a FREE personal injury consultation, either online or by calling 773-516-4100.

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