Watch out for your dog's licks!

If you have a dog, you've already been the victim of his licks. Be careful, the tongue of dogs contains germs and bacteria

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Some masters even agree to have their faces licked directly. For your dog, it is a real sign of affection that can be likened to a kiss. But for you, it can be dangerous. Because the tongue of doggies contains germs and bacteria, the best known of which is Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

Capnocytophaga canimorsus: the most common bacterium

This bacteria is present in the mouths of dogs and cats. Although it is absolutely not dangerous for animals, it can be for humans. Indeed, it can be transmitted by bites, scratches or close contact with a four-legged animal.According to a study by the Brest Regional University Hospital Center published in the journal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, between February 2017 and April 2018, this bacterium caused the death of three people in France.

A new study, conducted in France and published in June 2022 in the specialized journal The European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Tellers, has highlighted 44 cases of infection with this bacterium in ten years. And only 15% of cases had been observed following dog "licking" . It is therefore an extremely rare disease but many doctors advise against "licking" dogs. Claude Guigen, former head of the parasitology department at the University Hospital of Rennes, had even declared “the risks are very real because the dog carries between 30 and 40 germs in its mouth! ”.

More recently, a video went viral on the TikTok social network. The author of the video, medexplained2you, explains the possible problems that can arise following an infection with Capnocytophaga canimorsus.Posted on August 8, 2022, the video had over 2 million views by early October.

The symptoms of this bacterium

Like any disease, symptoms appear. In the case of a Capnocytophaga canimorsus infection, they are similar to those of an influenza state. If you experience high fever, vomiting and/or tremors, you may potentially be infected. In the most serious cases, Capnocytophaga canimorsus can cause tissue necrosis, meningitis, blood clotting problems, heart valve infections or other pathologies affecting the heart.

Geneviève Héry-Arnaud, professor and researcher in bacteriology at the University of Brest Regional Hospital Center, specifies that the person affected by this bacterium can develop "severe sepsis, that is to say a serious infection which spreads through the body through blood. And unfortunately, even if these cases remain very rare, these symptoms can lead to death.

Protect yourself against infection

Geneviève Héry-Arnaud wants to be reassuring, she repeats that cases of infection are very rare. She is not against "licking" dogs but recommends that some people avoid this kind of contact with animals. Especially patients with weakened immune systems. This is, for example, the case of HIV carriers, very heavy smokers, people who consume excessive alcohol, diabetics or even immunocompromised patients.

On the other hand, some good gestures are to be adopted if you have an animal. The bacteriology specialist recommends washing your hands properly after each contact with a dog's saliva, and especially in the presence of a wound. Also, if a dog licks or bites you on a wound, you will need to remain vigilant for 48 to 72 hours. If an infection occurs, you will need to undergo antibiotic therapy.

Your dog likes to show you his affection by "licking" . If they are not dangerous in themselves, they can nevertheless transmit certain diseases to you. Several deaths were noted by an infection with Capnocytophaga canimorsus. It is important to adopt the right gestures, in particular washing your hands after having been in contact with the saliva of an animal, avoiding being licked if your state of he alth is weak and monitoring a potential infection in case of doubt.

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