Man's Limbs Amputated After Suspected Dog Lick Leads to Blood Infection

A dog lick may have cost a Wisconsin man his limbs in a rare but tragic case. A bacteria found in dog and cat saliva led to an infection that tore through the man's body.

Greg Manteufel from West Bend, WI, developed flu-like symptoms as his body reacted incredibly aggressively to the infection. Doctors were forced to begin amputating the West Bend man's limbs just a week after arriving at hospital, local station Fox 6 reported.

This kind of violent response causes blood pressure to plummet, starving the limbs of vital oxygen and nutrients like glucose. "Sometimes [blood pressure] decreases so much that the arms and legs just die," Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious disease specialist with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, told Fox 6.

By the time his surgeries are over, the illness will have cost Manteufel his lower legs, parts of his arms and much of his nose, a GoFundMe page set up by his family stated. Plastic surgery and prosthetic limbs will help him to live a more normal life once he has recovered from what the family reported was sepsis.

Although almost any infection can cause sepsis, cases like this are very rare. The family's fundraising page states the bacteria was Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is found in the saliva of some animals. Doctors think a lick from Manteufel's own dog probably caused his illness, Fox 6 reported.

This bacteria is found in the mouths of many dogs, but it almost never leads to sepsis, the family stated. "More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It's just chance," said Munoz-Price.

File photo: Many dogs carry the Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria in their mouths. Getty Images

The episode has been life-changing for Manteufel, who was a keen motorcyclist. His wife told Fox 6 doctors should keep him alive whatever the cost. "That's all he kept saying to the doctors—'take what you need but keep me alive.' And they did it. Surprisingly enough, they did do it," Manteufel's wife, Dawn, told Fox 6.

Manteufel will be fitted for prosthetic limbs to help him live independently, the family's fundraising page stated.

"Greg is truly a fighter in this. He is amazing," a message from the family on the page said. "His doctors, nurses, rehab team, family, friends and everyone who sees how hard he works each day to get himself stronger, learning to do the things we all take for granted in such ways most could not imagine. Greg pushes himself everyday to do as much as he can to further his recovery."

Flu-like symptoms including confusion, shortness of breath, fever and clammy skin can indicate sepsis, the CDC reports. Those below the age of one or 65 and older, and those with weak immune systems or long term health conditions are more likely to develop sepsis.

Sepsis can progress rapidly and become fatal, so the CDC advises anyone who suspects they may have developed the condition to seek medical attention immediately. Keeping wounds clean can help prevent infections, the agency stated.