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Capnocytophaga infections can cause serious complications

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Animal Bites & Attacks

Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria found in the mouths of humans and animals. Most people carry this bacterium without experiencing any harmful effects. However, it can lead to serious complications in certain situations.

Capnocytophaga infections can occur when the bacteria enter the bloodstream through open wounds, bites or scratches. Once in the bloodstream, these bacteria can multiply and cause severe illness.


Symptoms of a capnocytophaga infection vary depending on the individual and the severity of the infection. In mild cases, symptoms may include fever, chills and muscle aches, resembling those of the flu. However, as the infection progresses, more severe symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty breathing may occur. In some cases, the infection can lead to septic shock. This is a life-threatening condition characterized by a sudden drop in blood pressure and organ failure. Prompt recognition of symptoms is necessary for managing capnocytophaga infections.

Potential complications

Capnocytophaga infections can lead to various complications. This is especially likely in those with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions. Among the most severe complications is sepsis. Sepsis is a widespread inflammatory response to infection that can cause organ damage and failure. These infections can also lead to meningitis, an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can result in long-term neurological problems or even death. Furthermore, capnocytophaga infections may lead to necrotizing fasciitis. This is a rare but serious bacterial infection that destroys skin, muscle and other soft tissues.

Prevention and treatment

Preventing capnocytophaga infections involves washing hands and cleaning wounds promptly. Avoiding close contact with animals, especially those with a history of aggressive behavior, can also reduce the risk of bites or scratches that may lead to infection. In cases where infection occurs, prompt medical treatment with antibiotics helps prevent the spread of the bacteria and mitigate the severity of symptoms. Close monitoring and supportive care may be necessary for those with severe infections to prevent complications and promote recovery.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about three in 10 people who develop serious infections die from them. By understanding the dangers posed by Capnocytophaga bacteria, individuals can take proactive steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential harm.