Risk of Infection

People with certain health conditions are at greater risk of infection, but anyone could become sick from Capnocytophaga bacteria.

Risk factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Not having a spleen
  • Immuno-compromising conditions, including but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • HIV infection
  • Taking drugs that are toxic to cells (such as chemotherapy)
dog therapy in hospital with patient and handler

The majority of infections occur in adults over 40 years of age.

Capnocytophaga can cause serious illness in pregnant women and their fetuses. Infection during the last few weeks of pregnancy can lead to chorioamnionitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the fetus), and sepsis (bacterial infection in the bloodstream or body tissues) in the newborn. Infection has also been linked to low birth weight.

If you have any of these conditions and have contact with dogs or cats, see the Prevention and Pets pages for more information. If you are bitten by a dog or cat, call your doctor immediately and describe your animal contact.