Can canine saliva be deadly?

Even if you are an animal lover, you probably prefer dogs not to lick your face. After all, canine saliva can be both germy and smelly. If saliva stays on the surface of your skin, though, it is not likely to harm you. The same is not true for saliva that works its way into your bloodstream when a dog bites you, unfortunately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs naturally have Capnocytophaga germs in their saliva. People and cats have these bacteria too. While Canocytophaga bacteria do not always cause serious illness, they can be particularly hazardous for those with weakened immune systems.

Who is at risk?

Even if you are healthy, your body may not respond well to Capnocytophaga exposure. If you have a weak immune system, however, these bacteria can be extremely dangerous. Indeed, if one or more of the following apply to you, you should closely monitor yourself for signs of illness after a dog bite:

  • You drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  • You have had your spleen surgically removed
  • You have cancer
  • You have HIV

What are the symptoms of an infection?

The symptoms of Capnocytopha infection mirror those of other infections. Therefore, you should go to the emergency room immediately if you have a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches or body aches. You should also seek emergency medical care for blisters, swelling or fluid discharge.

In extreme cases, Capnocytophaga infections can lead to sepsis, septic shock and even death. Ultimately, by seeking prompt treatment, you are likely to improve your chances of recovering completely from your bite-associated infection.