Capnocytophaga infection

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A Capnocytophaga infection can cause flu-like symptoms like Blisters, fever, confusion, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain can appear anywhere from 1 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection can escalate to potentially deadly complications like sepsis, a life-threatening inflammation caused by the body fighting off illness. High fever, chills, extreme pain, shortness of breath, high heart rate, dizziness, and clammy, sweaty skin are all signs of sepsis.

As scary as it sounds, the study's authors conclude that the infection is still extremely rare, so don't flee from your furry friends. Just be sure to wash thoroughly if you get slobbered on while playing with pets. And if you have unexplained flu-like symptoms, seek immediate treatment and let the medical staff know you have pets, the researchers suggest.

Although infections are rare, as many as 74% of dogs carry this type of bacteria

While serious Capnocytophaga infections in humans is rare, the bacteria itself is common in healthy cats and dogs. As many as 74% of dogs have the bacteria in their mouths, and never get sick themselves. Cats are also hosts to Capnocytophaga, although they're less likely to transmit it to humans.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Thomas Butler previously told Insider that Capnocytophaga bacteria can be spread when saliva comes in contact with an open wound, anywhere the skin is broken, or a mucous membrane like your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is why a lick from your favorite furry friend, especially on your face, can be a problem. 

While the man didn't have any open wounds or bites from his dog, his dog did lick him.  

The vast majority of people who interact with pets, though, won't get sick. The elderly and people bitten by animals may be at risk, and serious cases tend to occur in people with compromised immune systems due to cancer, HIV, certain medications, other chronic illnesses, and even heavy drinking. This patient was unique because he had a healthy immune system. 

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Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.