Capnocytophaga canimorsus

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Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a commensal in the mouths of dogs and cats[1] . It is frequently the cause of infection in dog bites (although a bite is not necessary if ingested) and more likely to lead to serious illness in the immunocompromised[2]. Not all laboratories can identify it. However it is very rare with only just over ten case reports in the UK.

  • Wash your hands after handling pets
  • If immunocompromised/no spleen/alcoholic treat with prophylactic antibiotics after a dog/cat bite/scratch
  • Do not let your pet lick skin ulcers or kiss you if you are immunocompromised, a baby or elderly



  • Gram-negative aerobic rod
  • Fusiform with tapered ends
  • Fastidious and slow-growing
  • It can be transmitted by other animals than domestic pets - eg large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis L)[3]


  • Superkingdom Bacteria
    • Phylum Bacteroidetes
      • Class Flavobacteria
        • Order Flavobacteriales
          • FamilyFlavobacteriaceae
            • Genus Capnocytophaga
              • Species Capnocytophaga canimorsus

Clinical presentation

Literature reported case-fatality rate is about 26 % with common immunocompromise being prior splenectomy and alcoholism[4]. However fatal illness can occur in the immunocompetent[5].