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BMJ Case Reports 2016; doi:10.1136/bcr-2016-215450
  • CASE REPORT

Lick of death: Capnocytophaga canimorsus is an important cause of sepsis in the elderly

Press Release
  1. Douglas Fink2
  1. 1Department of Medicine for the Elderly, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, London, UK
  2. 2Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr James P Wilson, j.wilson31{at}nhs.net
  • Accepted 11 May 2016
  • Published 30 June 2016

Summary

A 70-year-old Caucasian woman was treated for Capnocytophaga canimorsus septicaemia. The source of bacteraemia was very likely to be her household pet, an Italian greyhound. The patient presented with a presumed complex partial seizure but deteriorated rapidly with sepsis and multiorgan dysfunction. Neither scratch nor bite was established, although close petting including licks was reported. Blood cultures grew Gram-negative rods, identified by molecular techniques as C. canimorsus—a bacterium frequently isolated in the oral cavities of dogs and cats. A full recovery was made following 2 weeks of intensive care support and broad-spectrum antibiotics. No underlying immune dysfunction was found.

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