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Woman dies after getting infection from her dog's saliva

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (KXAN) - It all started with a nip from Sharon Larson's dog, Bo. The small cut led to severe flu-like symptoms. Within two days, Sharon, 58, died. 

Health officials believe Sharon's deadly infection was linked to Bo's saliva. 

Sharon's husband, Dan Larson, says it all happened so quickly. "I feel like I got robbed. Lost my right arm. My best friend," says Dan.

Dan tells WTMJ, that the doctors told him she tested positive for Capnocytophaga, a bacteria found in the saliva of most dogs and cats. For most people, the bacteria has no effect, but for some, it can have devastating consequences.

"She could get struck by lightning four times and live, win the lottery twice. That's how rare this is supposed to be," says Dan. 

The people who typically are affected are over the age of 40, have weakened immune systems, their spleen removed or compromised liver function. About 3 in 10 people who get infected die.

The Centers for Disease Control says people who are infected with Capnocytophaga can experience a range of signs and symptoms such as: 

  • Blisters around the bite wound within hours of the bite
  • Redness, swelling, draining pus, or pain at the bite wound
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and/or stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Headache and/or confusion
  • Muscle or joint pain

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