The C canimorsus bacteria lives in the saliva of cats and dogs. Up to three-quarters of dogs and half of the cats carry the bacterium in their saliva. Most of the time, the bacteria have no harmful effects on the pet owner. However, there is a chance that the bacteria could cause an infection. Infections are rare but can be deadly. In most cases, the bacteria enter the human bloodstream as the result of a bit or scratch. However, some people have contracted the bacteria from their pet by simply being around them.
The complications that can arise from a C canimorsus infection include blood poisoning, meningitis, and severe respiratory distress. After the initial infection, symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and headaches will manifest. Untreated, the infection will progress. It is especially dangerous for pet owners with suppressed immune systems. Washing and disinfecting bites and scratches can inhibit the bacteria’s ability to cause an infection.