Risk of Capnocytophaga Infection

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

You may have a higher risk of infection if you:

  • Use alcohol excessively
  • Do not have a spleen (asplenic)
  • Have an immuno-compromising conditions, including but not limited to:
    • Cancer
    • Diabetes
    • HIV infection
  • Are taking drugs that are toxic to cells (such as chemotherapy)
dog therapy in hospital with patient and handler

Most Capnocytophaga infections occur in adults over 40 years of age. However, cases have also been diagnosed in young children.

Capnocytophaga germs can cause serious illness in pregnant women and their unborn babies. Infection during the last few weeks of pregnancy can lead to inflammation of the membranes that surround the baby in the womb, a condition known as chorioamnionitis. In the newborn, it can also cause low birth weight, and it can lead to serious infection of the bloodstream or body tissues, known as sepsis.

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.