- NEW YORK (Reuters
Health) - Lending an ear to man's best friend may result in serious infection,
according to researchers. They report the case of an elderly man who contracted
a serious ear infection after his dog repeatedly licked his ear.
- In a report published Saturday in The Lancet, Dr. Benoit
Codey and colleagues at Rennes University Hospital in Rennes, France, describe
the case of a 67-year-old man with a 40-year history of ear problems, including
chronic inflammation of the right inner ear.
- According to the authors, in June of 1998 the patient
was admitted to the hospital suffering from fever, confusion, headache,
nausea, and stiffness of the neck. Computed tomography (CT) scans showed
serious inflammation and damage to the inner ear and adjacent bony structures.
- Bacterial cultures revealed infection with Pasteurella
multocida, a bacterium found in animal saliva, which can be passed to humans
via bites. Pasteurella multocida has been isolated in the throats or respiratory
tracts of veterinarians and other humans in frequent contact with animals,
but the researchers note that "it has never been reported in the middle
- However, after interviewing the patient, the investigators
discovered that he "had a dog who frequently licked his right ear.''
The dog's saliva tested positive for the bacteria.
- Antibiotic therapy, followed by surgery, help rid the
man of his illness. Codey and colleagues note that "when last seen
in March 1999, the patient was well.''
- They stress that - in most cases -patients with chronic
ear disorders should not shun affectionate contact with their pets. However,
they do recommend that patients diagnosed with perforated eardrums "avoid
being licked on their ears by animals.''
- SOURCE: The Lancet 1999;354,1267-1268.