How Common Is Capnocytophaga Infection in Humans?


Dog bites are a concern in the United States, with more than 4.5 million people being bitten each year. However, the danger of a dog bite extends beyond just a physical injury. Capnocytophaga is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through a dog bite. While rare, it's important to be aware of the infection and its symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about this illness and what to do if you believe you’ve suffered an infection after a dog bite.

What is Capnocytophaga?

Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the mouths of cats and dogs, as well as in some humans. The bacteria can be transmitted through exposure to saliva, such as through a dog lick or through a bite wound.

Fortunately, capnocytophaga infection is rare in humans. A study showed that incidences of infection were 0.67 infections per million population. However, while the infection typically doesn't cause any issues, it has the potential to infect individuals who have weakened immune systems.

Individuals with weakened immune systems include:

  • Those who drink alcohol excessively
  • Individuals with removed spleens
  • People with HIV infection or cancer

If you or a loved one has any of the above conditions, it is important to speak with your doctor about how to safely interact with dogs and cats.

Capnocytophaga Symptoms

Capnocytophaga can cause a variety of symptoms in those who are bitten. While most people who become ill will show symptoms within 3 to 5 days, it's important to note that this timeframe can vary greatly - ranging anywhere from 1 to 14 days.

Signs and symptoms of capnocytophaga infection can include:

  • Blisters around the bite wound after a few hours
  • Redness, swelling, or pain at the wound
  • Draining pus
  • Fever
  • Headache and/or confusion
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach pain

If you have been bitten by a dog or cat and experience any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

What Does Capnocytophaga Do to Humans?

It’s important to remember that capnocytophaga infections can occur in individuals who are licked by dogs or cats and not bitten. While the risk of infection is low, those who are infected can experience serious complications.

Capnocytophaga infection can lead to:

  • Heart attach
  • Kidney failure
  • Gangrene
  • Finger, toe, or limb amputation
  • Death

Capnocytophaga infections can be very serious, with approximately 3 in 10 people who develop a severe infection dying as a result. In some cases, the infection can progress incredibly quickly, causing sepsis and ultimately leading to death within 24 to 72 hours after symptoms begin. It's important to seek medical attention right away if you’ve been bitten by a dog or suspect a capnocytophaga infection.

How to Prevent Dog Bites

To protect yourself and your loved ones, it's crucial to understand how to prevent dog bites.

Tips to prevent dog bites include:

  • Avoid unfamiliar dogs: It’s important to stay away from dogs you do not know. Even if they appear friendly, you do not know how well-socialized they are.
  • Move slowly: If an unfamiliar dog is interested in you or being aggressive, try to move slowly and avoid running or making any sudden movements. By doing so, the dog may lose interest in you.
  • Avoid bothering dogs: If a dog is eating or sleeping, avoid trying to play with them. Dogs can become startled or may misinterpret your behavior for trying to steal their food and become aggressive.
  • Avoid making loud noises: Similar to avoiding making sudden movements, be sure to also avoid yelling or screaming when confronted with an aggressive dog.

By taking these preventative measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of capnocytophaga infection and other serious health concerns associated with dog bites.

Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

It's always best to take precautions when it comes to dogs, but despite our efforts, sometimes accidents happen. If you or a loved one has experienced a dog bite due to the negligence of others, seek medical attention immediately.

Afterward, contact our dog bite injury lawyers at Jetton & Meredith, PLLC. We understand that navigating the legal aspects of a dog bite can be overwhelming, but we're here to help you pursue the compensation you deserve.

Let us take the lead and help you move forward. Call (704) 931-5535 or contact us online.