Man has legs and hands amputated after a dog lick leads to blood infection

Man has legs and hands amputated after a dog lick leads to blood infection

A month ago, 48-year-old Greg Manteufel was perfectly healthy. He painted houses for a living and loved cruising around West Bend, Wisconsin on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Then one day he developed a fever and started vomiting. Assuming it was the stomach flu, he decided to sleep on it, and let the sickness pass.

It didn't. This was no mild stomach flu. When Greg woke up, he was delirious, and his temperature had skyrocketed. Whatever this infection was, his body was responding violently. Dawn, Greg's wife, drove him to the emergency room, and noticed bruises staining his body. "It hit him with a vengeance," she told Fox 6. "Just bruising all over him. Looked like somebody beat him up with a baseball bat."

Man rides motorcycle before contracting serious blood infection Credit: Greg Manteufel

At the hospital, blood tests revealed the cause of the infection: capnocytophaga, a bacteria found in dog and cat saliva. The bacteria is present in most dog and cat saliva, but only harms humans in rare cases. Greg owns eight dogs, and any one of them could be the culprit. "We can't wrap our heads around it," said Dawn, "that all of the sudden, he's 48 years old and been around dogs all of his life... and this happens."

"This type of bacteria comes from the saliva of dogs," said Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious disease specialist with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. "This infection in his blood triggered a very severe response on his body."

Man contracts rare blood infection from dog lick Credit: Greg Manteufel

Greg was suffering from sepsis: blood poisoning from bacteria. That's what caused the blood spots - or bruises - to appear. Doctors gave him antibiotics, but they were not effective. Greg's blood pressure plummeted, and blood clots blocked circulation to his extremities. "Sometimes [blood pressure] decreases so much that the arms and legs just die," said Dr. Munoz-Price.

In order to save Greg's life, doctors had no choice but to amputate his limbs. Just one week after checking in to the hospital, they removed Greg's legs from the knee down. Then they amputated his hands. "It took a week and they were taking his legs," reflected Dawn. "That's all he kept saying to the doctors -- 'take what you need but keep me alive.' And they did it. Surprisingly enough, they did do it."

Man has legs and hands removed after suffering rare blood infection from dog lick Credit: Greg Manteufel

According to the doctors, Greg's situation is a fluke. "More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It's just chance," said Dr. Munoz-Price. We've all seen people let dogs and cats lick them - who would have thought it could lead to a nightmare like this? But every once it a while it happens. Last April, a man in England suffered from the same infection, losing both legs and five fingers after playing with his dog. (And getting infected by his Cocker Spaniel's saliva.)

It took an unusual set of circumstances, and a lot of bad luck to contract this infection. But despite being dealt such a cruel hand by fate, Greg is said to be in good spirits. He and his wife are aware that their lives have changed forever. "There’s no choice," Dawn told The Washington Post. "We have no choice but to be positive and make the best of it."

The Manteufel family has created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Greg's prosthetic limbs. They also want to raise money for plastic surgery to repair his nose, since the lack of blood flow caused it to turn black. Greg will probably not paint houses or ride his beloved Harley Davidson again. However, prosthetic limbs and cosmetic surgery will help him to lead a more normal life. We hope that he can do so soon.