Woman infected with dog disease after letting puppies lick her feet

Don't let your dog do this.
Don't let your dog do this. Photo credit: Getty

A woman who let her puppies lick her feet has ended up in hospital suffering a rare infection as a result.

The bizarre case, detailed in the Journal of Emergency Medicine, says the 86-year-old showed up to an Israeli hospital suffering a fever, vomiting and pain in her right leg.

Doctors discovered she had cellulitis - a fairly common infection that affects the skin and tissue underneath. While not unusual, the cause was -  Streptococcus canis, a bacteria usually found in dogs and other pets, not humans.

They also noticed she had cuts in the dry skin around her toes - and she mentioned she had puppies which liked to lick her feet.

"Pets are a source for zoonotic diseases, including resistant bacteria, that pose particular risk to immunocompromised patients," the researchers said. 'Zoonotic' means it can jump from animals to humans - like ebola, malaria and rabies. 

The woman was undergoing treatment for diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis when she got infected. 

The bacteria jumped from the puppies' tongues onto her feet, and got beneath the skin and into her blood. Zohar Lederman, who treated the woman, said it was very rare.

"Think about all the times people all over the world receive licks from their pets and do not get sick," he told Live Science.

Antibiotics soon sorted the problem out. The researchers published the case to raise awareness of zoonotic infections, saying doctors should work more closely with veterinarians when it happens.