South Milwaukee woman dies after getting rare infection from her dog's saliva

NOW: South Milwaukee woman dies after getting rare infection from her dog’s saliva

SOUTH MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A South Milwaukee mother and grandmother died in June after she was bitten by her dog. 

Sharon Larson's dog, Bo, bit her finger and she started experiencing flu-like symptoms. 

Her husband Daniel took her to the hospital but things got worse. 

"The cultures came back and it was the dog bite. It was that fast, she died Saturday it was June 23rd," Daniel Larson said. 

The family said doctors were not sure what was wrong but she tested positive for a bacteria called capnocytophaga. It's a bacteria commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats. 

There were other cases reported. In June, a West Bend man had his limbs amputated after he was licked by a dog. Researchers say it's the same bacteria that nearly took the life of a Wisconsin boy three years ago. 

"More than 99 percent of people that have dogs will never have this issue, it's just chance," Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price said. 

Veterinarian Pete Gaveras said pet owners should not be alarmed. 

"People do not need to get rid of their pets absolutely no way. This is a very rare event and we are exposed to these pets, germs, and saliva all the time. This is something that we need to be aware of but good hygiene is necessary and important all the time," said Gaveras. 

Some people could be at greater risk of infection including those with weak immune systems, excessive alcohol use and those without a spleen. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, it does not track the number of people affected. 

"She was my best friend, my wife. Is anyone tracking stuff like this?" Larson asked. 

Sharon's favorite charity was the South Milwaukee Human Concerns. If you'd like to donate call, 414-764-5340.

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