What Is the Bacteria That Cause People to Develop Infections From Dog Licks?

Could being licked by a dog truly be fatal?

The answer is yes. A 63-year-old man in Germany died after he was licked by a dog last month. 

And the culprit? A bacterium called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is usually found in the mouths of dogs and cats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria usually doesn't affect healthy people, but those who have weakened immune systems, or who drink in excess, can be at a greater risk for C. animorsus infections. 

In this case, however, doctors said the man had neither risk factor. He was seemingly healthy before he began experiencing fever, discolored skin, breathing trouble and leg pain. When he was admitted to the hospital, his organs began failing, and despite an aggressive antibiotic treatment, he died 16 days later, according to the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine.