A woman who contracted an extremely rare bacterial infection has died just days after she was nipped by her puppy.
Sharon Larson, 58, started experiencing flu like symptoms on June 20, the day after she received a minor cut to her hand from her puppy, Bo. The next day, she felt so weak that she couldn’t even hold a glass of water.
The Wisconsin grandmother was rushed to the emergency room where doctors told her husband, Daniel Larson, that her kidneys were failing.
Two days later, Ms Larson’s blood tested positive for capnocytophaga canimorsus, common bacteria found in the mouths of dogs and cats. Though the bacteria are common, it’s extremely rare for them to cause serious illness.
Doctors treated her with antibiotics, but she died the next afternoon.
Ms Larson’s heartbroken family have remembered her as “amazingly kind” and caring.
“Her smile will live on through her five grandkids and a sixth on the way,” her adult daughter, Stacy Larson-Hruzek, told NBC.
Her death comes just weeks after another Wisconsin resident, Greg Manteufel contracted the same infection, ultimately leading to the amputation of parts of his arms and legs.
Despite their close proximity, experts have insisted their cases aren’t linked.
“The risk posed by a dog is really low,” Scott Weese, a professor at the Ontario Veterinary College’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses, told HuffPost.“Most dogs are carrying this bug in their mouth, but few people get sick.”
People with low immune systems are most at risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but even then infection is unlikely.
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Dr Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious disease specialist with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, said that Mr Manteufel’s case is an extremely rare occurrence and that pet owners need not panic.
“More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It’s just chance,” she said.
Mr Manteufel’s family said they were hoping the surgeries would stop there, however after further analysis, surgeons made the decision to amputate to mid-forearm on both arms “due to extensive damage to the tissues and muscles”.
“We can’t wrap our heads around it that all of the sudden, he’s 48 years old and been around dogs all of his life… and this happens,” Ms Manteufel said.
Mr Manteufel, who owns a female pit bull, says he never had a health issue stem from petting a dog before.
“I’ve been around dogs my whole life, having them lick at me in my face and hands and everywhere,” he told People.
“The doctors told me I could have probably hit the lottery five times that day before I should have got what I got that day from a dog.”