Greg Manteufel, 48, was in good health until last month, according to Fox News, when he contracted a blood infection from his dog that resulted in having all four limbs amputated.
Manteufel, a resident of West Bend, Wisconsin, arrived in his local emergency room with what he assumed was the case of the flu.
Testing revealed that he had Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is a bacteria found in dog and cat saliva. Manteufel had a severe reaction to the infection, which caused sepsis. His blood pressure dropped and the circulation in his limbs quickly decreased.
“It took a week and they were taking his legs,” his wife, Dawn Manteufel, told local affiliate Fox 6 Now.
As the infection progressed, surgeons removed parts of his hands. Later surgery removed his hands and his arms up to mid-forearm.
According to the family’s GoFundMe page, Manteufel will need “several more surgeries to monitor and treat the affected areas to his body.”
Although the condition is rare, this isn’t the first time someone has fallen ill from Capnocytophaga canimorsus. According to CBS News, a 70-year-old woman in England also became ill from the bacteria in a case reported in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports.
After she was hospitalized, she developed a fever and her kidneys began to fail. With intensive care and antibiotics, the woman made a full recovery.
What makes both these cases unusual is that neither was bitten by a dog, which is a more common form of transmission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, various species of Capnocytophaga can be transmitted from dogs and cats to humans through scratches, bites, or close contact. Most people do not become ill, but people who have weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to infections.
The BMJ Case Reports article states, “This report highlights that infection can occur without overt scratch or bite injuries. It also reminds us that the elderly are at higher risk of infection.”
Dr. Bruce Farber, an infectious disease specialist, told CBS News, “Dogs shouldn’t be licking newborn babies.”
This is because newborns have weakened immune systems which don’t fully develop until they are 2 to 3 months old.
Overall, though, this type of infection is rare.
“More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It’s just chance,” Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious disease specialist, told Fox 6 Now.
Manteufel is facing a long recovery, with more surgeries to come. His nose will need to be rebuilt due to the sepsis and he will need to be fitted for prosthetic limbs.
“He is so thankful to be alive today and is taking one day at a time,” according to his GoFundMe page.