Infections from a dog lick are a risk but very rare
Originally published on USA Today
Jennifer McQuiston isn’t worried about her children getting kisses from the family’s dogs.
The recent reports of death and serious injury to two Wisconsin residents tied to bacteria in dogs' saliva is no reason to panic, McQuiston said.
Why should anyone care what McQuiston thinks?
She’s one of the nation’s leading experts on capnocytophaga, the bacteria at the center of the tragedies.
“I have two dogs and they play and lick my children every day, and I am not concerned about capnocytophaga, (pronounced cap-no-sa-TOE-faga)” said McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
More important is recognizing the symptoms of sepsis — a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection — and getting immediate medical attention, she and other experts said.
“What’s really happening is a rapidly overwhelming bacterial infection,” McQuiston said.
And typically, if recognized early and the person has no underlying health problems, capnocytophaga will respond to penicillin or another common antibiotic.