A chilling medical emergency unfolded in the Canary Islands when a 71-year-old man was hospitalized due to a rare bug caught from Chihuahua. This alarming incident brings to the forefront the hidden risks associated with close contact between pets and their owners, particularly highlighting the dangers that even a simple lick can pose.

How the Man Was Hospitalized with Severe Illness

The man’s health ordeal began with symptoms that initially seemed benign—days of diarrhea and a high fever.

However, these symptoms were precursors to a much more severe condition that led to his hospitalization at Hospital Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in La Gomera.

Despite having no apparent injuries like bites or scratches from his dog, the man’s situation escalated rapidly, necessitating the use of an oxygen mask for breathing support.

What was striking about this case was the diagnosis: pneumonia complicated by septic shock, a severe response to infection not commonly seen in pet-related transmissions.

Rare bug caught from Chihuahua, illustrated by an old man holding a female pup
Rare bug caught from Chihuahua, illustrated by an old man holding a female pup

This was further complicated by his pre-existing health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and lung disease, which likely exacerbated his vulnerability to infections.

Following an intense three-week hospital stay involving oxygen therapy and daily antibiotic treatments, the man embarked on a lengthy recovery process.

His ordeal, which spanned six months post-discharge, underscores the need for awareness and preventive measures in pet ownership to mitigate the risk of similar infections.

What Is Pasteurella Multocida?

The key to understanding the man’s critical condition was the identification of Pasteurella multocida in his bloodstream.

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Typically associated with soft-tissue infections from animal bites or scratches, the occurrence of pneumonia from this bacterium is notably rare, making this case particularly unusual.

This incident serves as a cautionary tale about the risks of seemingly innocuous pet interactions, such as sharing a bed, kissing, or being licked by pets.

These behaviors, while often signs of affection, can inadvertently expose individuals to pathogens with the potential to cause serious health issues.

How to Know You’re at Risk

Understanding the risks associated with Pasteurella Multocida, a bacterium commonly found in the mouths of pets like dogs and cats, is crucial for preventing infections that could lead to serious health complications.

While anyone can potentially be infected, certain conditions and behaviors increase the risk:

  1. Close Contact with Pets: Regularly kissing your pets or allowing them to lick your face, especially near your mouth, nose, or open wounds, significantly raises the risk of transmission.
  2. Pre-existing Health Conditions: Individuals with weakened immune systems, chronic illnesses such as diabetes or lung diseases, or those undergoing treatments that suppress the immune system are at a higher risk.
  3. Recent Wounds: Having recent scratches, bites, or open wounds increases the likelihood of bacteria entering the bloodstream, making it imperative to treat and cover any injuries promptly.
  4. Lack of Pet Hygiene: Not maintaining regular dental care and check-ups for your pets can contribute to the prevalence of harmful bacteria in their mouths.
Rare bug caught from Chihuahua can be most easily transmitted by mouth licks, as shown in the image
Rare bug caught from Chihuahua can be most easily transmitted by mouth licks, as shown in the image

To mitigate the risk, it’s advisable to maintain good hygiene practices for both you and your pets.

Regular handwashing after handling pets, ensuring wounds are cleaned and covered, and avoiding face-to-face contact can significantly reduce the likelihood of infection.

Additionally, keeping up with your pets’ vaccinations and health check-ups helps to monitor and manage the bacteria they may carry.

Awareness and preventive measures are key to enjoying a healthy life with your pets while minimizing the risk of encountering rare but potentially severe infections like those caused by Pasteurella Multocida.

Wrapping Up

The story of the man’s battle with a rare bug caught from Chihuahua serves as a vital reminder of the balance needed between showing affection to our pets and maintaining our health and safety.

It highlights the importance of being mindful of our interactions with pets and the potential health risks they carry.

By fostering a greater understanding of these risks and adopting safer practices, we can enjoy the companionship of our pets without compromising our health.

This case, now documented in the journal Respiratory Medicine Case Reports, is a testament to the unpredictable nature of pet-related health risks and the resilience of those affected by them.

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