Ottawa mother loses 3 limbs after dog bite infection

Ottawa mother loses 3 limbs after dog bite infection

A single mother of four from Ottawa lost both of her legs and one of her arms after an accidental bite from one of her pet dogs led to an infection that put her into septic shock.

Christine Caron, 49, was playing tug-of-war with her dogs on May 22 when one of the dogs, a Shih Tzu mix named Buster, nipped her hand.

The dog backed off, and then the other dogs licked her hand, she said.

Caron thought nothing of it, but three days later, she was rushed to hospital, and was put in a coma for a month and a half.

"When I woke up my legs were black and my arm looked sort of mummified," said Caron.

Caron's wound had become infected with Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a common bacterium in a dog's saliva.

The results for Caron are extremely rare, according to a Health Canada spokesperson. Only about 200 septic shock cases linked to the bacterium have been reported worldwide in the last 25 years, Health Canada says.

Ottawa Hospital said they're not sure if it was the bite or the licking that led to the infection.

But Caron's body reacted badly and went into septic shock, cutting off the blood flow to her extremities.

"It was mind-blowing. I mean literally I was awake for a day or two before they told me that they were amputating," said Caron. "It was 'what am I going to do? How am I going to raise my kids?' It almost makes me cry to think about it."

Caron's right hand was saved and is not at risk of needing amputation, but it was also injured and she has lost movement in it. She is awaiting surgery for skin grafts and other procedures in the hopes that she can regain most of its normal motion.

"I have to move forward because I have four kids that still need a mom. I'm not the type of person that wants to curl up and die. I want to live," she said.

Caron was about to start a contract as an insurance broker before the injury, and so has no private insurance or job. Her family has started to raise money on the fundraising website Fundrazr to help pay for renovations to Caron's home to make it more accessible, and also for prosthetic legs, which can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

So far they've raised about $13,000 of the $100,000 they believe they will need to pay for both the renovations and prosthetics.

Caron said her only advice to others is to not wait before going to a hospital after a wound if they fear something is wrong.

"If you start to feel weird after you've been bitten, get to the doctor. It can be stopped with a bit of penicillin. If you wait you can die. It's that serious," she said.