Man, 60, was left fighting for life in hospital after catching an infection from a dog bite

December 3, 2018  15:16

A man was left fighting for his life in hospital after he caught an infection when he was bitten by a dog on his finger.

The unidentified 60-year-old initially dismissed his three day bout of vomiting and diarrhoea as being down to a 'dodgy curry'.

But when he arrived to A&E, concerned doctors rushed him to straight to intensive care after diagnosing him with sepsis.

They found his symptoms had been caused by a tiny wound from a dog bite on his finger, measuring no more than 1cm.

The man, thought to be from Scotland, quickly deteriorated over the next two days and suffered multi-organ failure. 

Gruesome pictures also show he suffered severe skin necrosis (tissue death) on his lower limbs and feet as a result of the Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria. 

He was eventually allowed home after nine days in intensive care, after receiving a concoction of antibiotics. 

The case was told in a prestigious medical journal, BMJ Case Reports, which did not reveal the name of the man.

Doctors writing in the report did not reveal what breed of dog bit him or whether or not he owned the animal. 

When he arrived in the emergency department, he complained of abdominal pain, and lip and tongue pain, constricting his mouth.

Immediately, medics in intensive care discovered his skin was patchy and his fluids and oxygen levels were dangerously low.

Doctors at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary gave him antibiotics to treat a suspected case of intra-abdominal source of sepsis. 

Sepsis strikes when an infection sparks a violent immune response, causing the body to attack its own organs.

Treating severe sepsis quickly is important for the survival of a person, with up to four in ten cases resulting in death, according to the NHS.

On the verge of possible death, scans revealed severe issues with his heart, kidneys and lungs, and he was put on dialysis after a day in intensive care.

His lower limbs also began to show the unsightly signs of bleeding under the skin, called a purpuric rash, which, eventually led to necrosis.

'It was felt at this point that there was a very low probability of survival', the authors, led by Dr Caroline Elliott, said.

Not long after the man had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), a family member said the patient had been bitten by a dog on his finger three days ago.

There was no inflammation around the tiny wound, but, worried, the doctors gave him antibiotics to treat bacteria associated with a dog bite.

The medical team were able to take a sample of blood on the man's arrival, which they used to identify the type of bacteria.

What the man thought was the result of his dinner the night before was soon confirmed to be, in fact, the fault of man's best friend.

By growing the bacteria in a dish, they identified C. canimorsus, the main bacteria that is harmful to humans from dog bites.    

The doctors revealed it is rare for humans to be struck down with the bug. However, no figures exist to document how uncommon it is. 


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