Builder killed by bite from pet dog
AN animal-lover from Canterbury died from an infection less than 48 hours after being bitten by his pet dog, an inquest heard.
Builder Gary Dickinson, 57, of Woodside Road, Sturry, died after his body went into shock at Margate's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 23.
On Thursday his partner, Michelle Dickinson told the Canterbury inquest that Mr Dickinson developed a purple rash over his body after separating a fight between his dogs on February 20.
The larger dog, a terrier cross, had nipped his hand when he picked it up.
She said: "It all happened so quickly. I never saw any bite marks but when Gary woke up on the Wednesday morning he was sick and didn't go to work. By dinnertime he started to get the shakes so I phoned for an ambulance."
Mr Dickinson was taken to Kent and Canterbury Hospital at 7.30pm but was sent home when a doctor diagnosed food poisoning.
Miss Dickinson said: "That night I was woken up by him shouting. He said he couldn't feel his fingers or his feet. When I turned the light on, he was covered in a purple rash."
Mr Dickinson was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate where he was put on a life-support machine.
But even with antibiotics he failed to recover. He died six hours later.
Miss Dickinson said her partner was an animal-lover who kept three cats, five chickens and two dogs.
The inquest, heard that Mr Dickinson's body had become infected by capnocytophaga – a form of bacteria found in the saliva of dogs and cats.
Pathologist Dr Salim Anjarwalla said he could not find an obvious bite mark but that in half the deaths involving the bacteria close contact with dogs and cats was enough to kill.
He said Mr Dickinson's history of alcoholism had also contributed to his death.
Coroner Rebecca Cobb said it was likely the bite had caused the infection.
Medical reports show that, although the infection is very rare, people who abuse alcohol are at higher risk.
Mr Dickinson's son Ashley Roberts said the family had agreed to allow his body to be used for research into the rare bacteria.
He said after the inquest: "We are hoping it will help future doctors identify it and help raise awareness about the infection."