An Oklahoma woman had to have her legs and six fingers amputated after she contracted a deadly infection from a small nip from her pet dog.  

In October 2018, Kathy Roberts, from Tuttle, started experiencing flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, reported Oklahoma News 4

About a month later, she got up to walk and had trouble moving her right leg, so the 60-year-old was rushed to the emergency room.

Within days, her limbs started turning black. 

Doctors told her that a blood infection had spread throughout her body that she had likely contracted from her dog’s saliva.

Roberts was told that, due to extensive tissue and muscle damage, doctors would be forced to amputate her legs and some of her fingers.  

Kathy Roberts, 60, from Tuttle, Oklahoma, first developed flu-like symptoms like fatigue in October 2018.Pictured: Roberts in the hospital

Her husband took her to the hospital a month later when she had trouble moving her leg. Pictured: Roberts in the hospital

Kathy Roberts, 60, from Tuttle, Oklahoma, first developed flu-like symptoms like fatigue in October 2018. Her husband took her to the hospital a month later when she had trouble moving her leg. Pictured, left and right: Roberts in the hospital

She was diagnosed with a bacterial pathogen called capnocytophaga canimorsus that is found in the saliva of healthy dogs and cats. Pictured: Roberts in the hospital

She was diagnosed with a bacterial pathogen called capnocytophaga canimorsus that is found in the saliva of healthy dogs and cats. Pictured: Roberts in the hospital 

Courtesy of KFOR 

When Roberts first arrived at St Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, she had low blood pressure and a very high heart rate, reported News 4.

Doctors didn’t have any answers for what was wrong, so they had asked to her recount everything that had happened in the days before she got sick.

Finally, she remembered an incident with her little two-year-old Maltese dog that she fostered in 2017.

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‘I was giving my little dog some chicken one night and he took the piece of chicken from my hand – I wasn’t paying attention,’ Roberts told News 4.

The small lap dog had accidentally nipped her hand.

‘Just a slight little scratch of the skin there and it wasn’t real bad at all, so I never thought two things about it,’ Roberts said.  

She’d washed the scratch, put on triple-antibiotic ointment, and went on about her evening, according to News 4.

But doctors ran blood tests and discovered she’d become infected with a bacterial pathogen known as capnocytophaga canimorsus.

During her time in the hospital, Roberts developed blisters and both her arms and legs turned black (pictured)

During her time in the hospital, Roberts developed blisters and both her arms and legs turned black (pictured)

Doctors believe she was infected after her two-year-old Maltese (pictured) accidentally nipped her while she was feeding him chicken

Doctors believe she was infected after her two-year-old Maltese (pictured) accidentally nipped her while she was feeding him chicken

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bacteria is found in the saliva of healthy dogs and cats.

One 2014 study from Japan found the bacteria to be present in 69 percent of dogs and 54 percent of cats.

The bacteria can be transmitted to humans through bites and licks, which get into the skin via an open wound.

While most people will not exhibit any symptoms if they become infected, it has been shown to cause severe illness in those who have compromised immune systems, according to a 2003 study from France. 

It’s so rare that it affects less that one per one million people.

Infection can usually be treated effectively with antibiotics and is recommended for a minimum of three weeks.

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But there can be long-term side effects include amputation from gangrene, heart attacks and kidney failure.

The faster the infection is diagnosed the better the chance of survival. About 30 percent of all those infected die.   

In mid-November, Roberts (pictured) had all of her fingers amputate

Two weeks later, Roberts (pictured) had another surgery to amputate both of her legs

In mid-November, Roberts (left and right) had all of her fingers amputated. Two weeks later, she had another surgery to amputate both of her legs

Roberts was fitted for prosthetics for her hands and legs, and her Maltese has since been amputated. Pictured: Roberts in the hospital

Roberts was fitted for prosthetics for her hands and legs, and her Maltese has since been amputated. Pictured: Roberts in the hospital

‘They treated me as if I was a burn patient,’ Roberts told News 4. ‘I had huge blisters and my legs were black.’

In mid-November, less than a month after the bite, Roberts had her fingers amputated. About two weeks later, her legs had to be amputated too.

‘It was hard, it was painful to have legs one day and not have legs the next,’ she said. 

‘[But] I was determined to get up, start walking and chase my grandkids, do the things that I enjoy again.’ 

About three months later, she was fitted for prosthetics both for her legs and fingers.

Despite her ordeal, Roberts has maintained a self-less attitude. 

‘I’ve thought about that a lot that it was me [who got sick] and not a baby,’ she said.

As for the dog, Roberts was worried that he would be put to sleep, but he has since been adopted, according to News 4.



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