Letting dogs lick your face could have lethal consequences

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This is an interesting case because neither scratch nor bite was established, although close petting including licks was reported

Dogs are one of the most adorable animals on the planet. They’re also one of the most loyal and affectionate. Sadly, letting your canine friend show affection can be lethal given the wrong circumstances.

In Britain, a 70-year-old woman almost died of sepsis after her Italian greyhound licked her face.

According to a Daily Mail report, the pensioner ended up in intensive care with multiple organ failure after contracting a rare infection.

Because the woman often petted her dog and let it lick her face, it is believed that the bacteria which can live in dogs’ cavities was passed to her.

“British doctors detailed in the online journal BMJ Case Reports how the woman, who was a non-smoker and rarely drank, nearly died after the infection caused her to develop sepsis," the report said.

“The condition occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection.”

Sepsis, also dubbed the “silent killer,” is a severe infection of the blood. It can lead to organ failure and death if not immediately treated.

The reports said that a woman’s relative, who she was speaking with on the phone, was alerted to her condition when she started slurring and grew unresponsive.

Arriving at her house, the paramedics found her slumped and semi-conscious in a chair. She was then rushed to the hospital.

At first she showed signs of improving, but later developed acute kidney failure and was moved to the ICU; her blood tests revealed that a bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus had infected her, a bacteria found in the mouths of cats and dog.

“This is an interesting case because neither scratch nor bite was established, although close petting including licks was reported,” said the doctors who handled her case.

Elderly people are more susceptible to such infections because their immune systems are weaker, and also because they are more likely to own pets. Children and pregnant women are also likely victims.

The diseases that are transmitted by pets are often left undiagnosed. Now doctors are urged to be more alert for pets passing on bacteria which can cause sepsis, particularly in the elderly.

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