Woman lost her hands and legs to an infection from puppy kisses


A women in Ohio is lucky to be alive after she landed in the hospital because of some puppy kisses from her dog.

Days after returning home from a Punta Cana vacation, Marie Trainer called out of work with a backache and nausea. Then her temperature spiked and dropped, sending her to a local Stark County, Ohio, emergency room in the early hours of May 11.

The doctors believed it was some type of tropical disease, but soon found out she acquired an infection from her own dog. This rare, but serious disease ended in her legs and arms being amputated.

What caused the infection?

Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, is a normal bacteria that is found on the gingiva of dogs. This gram-negative bacteria is transmitted from dogs all over the world when they bite or even lick an open wound on a human. 

Those at greatest risk are people with weakened immune systems. People with weakened immune systems include those who:

  • Drink alcohol excessively
  • Have had their spleens removed
  • Have HIV infection or cancer

Those who become ill may show symptoms within three to five days, although some may show signs earlier or later. About 3 in 10 people who develop a severe infection die.

How may Marie Trainer have contracted this disease?

The suspicion is that Marie Trainer contracted this when her puppy licked an open cut that was slightly infected on her face. 

Dr. Margaret Kobe, the medical director of infectious disease at Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio, treated Trainer and described her as “delirious” when she entered the intensive care unit. Shortly after, she became unconscious. Her skin started changing rapidly to a purplish-red color, and then it progressed into gangrene. Trainer then developed a blood clot.

Is this common?

While, Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, is normal flora in a dogs mouth, people who have a weakened immune system are more prone to contracting diseases. 

When a person becomes infected it can take 3-5 days for them to develop symptoms typically, while most people can eliminate and fight off the infection it rarely develops into sepsis. 

Signs and Symptoms of Capnocytophaga Infection

People who are infected with Capnocytophaga can have a range of signs and symptoms such as:

  • Blisters around the bite wound within hours of the bite
  • Redness, swelling, draining pus, or pain at the bite wound
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache and/or confusion
  • Muscle or joint pain

How is this treated?

Most contact with dogs and cats does not lead to a Capnocytophaga infection or any illness, even after a bite. But, you should take precautions. If you start having symptoms within 14 days of being bitten or licked, get medical care immediately. Tell your health care provider that you were recently bitten by an animal.

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