Bilateral acute renal cortical necrosis after a dog bite: case report

BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Feb 27;21(1):231. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-05901-6.


Background: Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a Gram-negative capnophilic rod and part of dogs/cats' normal oral flora. It can be transmitted by bites, scratches, or even by contact of saliva with injured skin. Asplenic patients and patients with alcohol abuse are at particular risk for fulminant C. canimorsus sepsis. However, also immunocompetent patients can have a severe or even fatal infection. This is the first case of a severe C. canimorsus infection in an immunocompromised host complicated by acute renal cortical necrosis with a "reverse rim sign" in contrast-enhanced computed tomography on hospital admission.

Case presentation: We report the case of a 44-year functionally asplenic patient after an allogeneic stem cell transplantation, who presented with septic shock after a minor dog bite injury 4 days prior. Because of abdominal complaints, epigastric pain with local peritonism, and radiological gallbladder wall thickening, an abdominal focus was suspected after the initial work-up. The patient underwent emergent open cholecystectomy, but the clinical suspicion of abdominal infection was not confirmed. Septic shock was further complicated by cardiomyopathy and disseminated intravascular coagulation. As a causative pathogen, C. canimorsus could be isolated. The clinical course was complicated by permanent hemodialysis and extensive acral necrosis requiring amputation of several fingers and both thighs.

Conclusion: We present a severe case of a C. canimorsus infection in a functionally asplenic patient after a minor dog bite. The clinical course was complicated by septic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and the need for multiple amputations. In addition, the rare form of acute renal failure - bilateral acute renal cortical necrosis - was visible as "reverse rim sign" on computed tomography scan. This case is an example of the potential disastrous consequences when omitting pre-emptive antibiotic therapy in wounds inflicted by cats and dogs, particularly in asplenic patients.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Capnocytophaga canimorsus; Case report; Dog bite; Reverse rim sign.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bites and Stings / complications*
  • Bites and Stings / microbiology*
  • Bites and Stings / therapy
  • Capnocytophaga* / isolation & purification
  • Capnocytophaga* / pathogenicity
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation / microbiology
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation / pathology
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation / therapy
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Intraabdominal Infections / etiology
  • Intraabdominal Infections / microbiology
  • Intraabdominal Infections / therapy
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / etiology
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / microbiology*
  • Kidney Cortex Necrosis / therapy
  • Shock, Septic / microbiology
  • Shock, Septic / therapy
  • Switzerland


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents

Supplementary concepts

  • Capnocytophaga canimorsus