A handful of otherwise healthy people have become severely ill when infected with capnocytophaga, a bacterium that's found in the saliva of cats and dogs, the Associated Press reports.
It adds that, usually, the bacterium only causes infections in individuals with compromised immune systems, but a few healthy people like Greg Manteufel have become gravely ill. According to the AP, he developed sepsis and has undergone more than 20 surgeries, including numerous amputations, to save his life.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that five people who developed capnocytophaga infections despite being healthy all shared a genetic variant that the researchers think might make them more susceptible to severe effects from infection, the AP reports. Three of those five people, it notes, survived following amputations, but two died.
Manteufel, it adds, has undergone testing, but hasn't yet gotten his results. He tells the AP that while he doesn't like that fact that he could be at risk of additional infection, he hasn't gotten his dog tested for the bacterium. "We weren't going to get rid of her if it was her that caused it anyway," he tells it. "We just love her to death."