An English woman found herself in a hospital with a life-threatening infection from an unexpected source: The affectionate licking of her Italian greyhound.
The 70-year-old’s story was detailed in the BMJ Case Reports medical journal by doctors at the Department of Medicine for the Elderly at the University College London Hospitals.
According to the report, a relative noticed the woman’s speech had become slurred while on the phone. Soon, she had stopped responding.
Paramedics arrived to find the woman losing consciousness and rushed her to hospital.
The woman regained consciousness, but after a few days, doctors discovered her kidneys were failing. Her blood tested positive for sepsis, or blood poisoning.
Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection, according to Mayo Clinic. When a person’s body tries to fight off an infection, the chemicals released into the bloodstream can cause inflammation and organ failure.
The condition is “most common and most dangerous” in the elderly, notes Mayo Clinic.
The woman’s serious condition was a “medical mystery” for her doctors, according to CBS News. None of the typical sources of blood poisoning seemed to apply to this case.
After numerous tests, doctors discovered the presence of a bacterium called Capnocytophage canimorsus, which is commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats.