Health experts warn about dangers of dog licks

DENVER -- Shelby Bell loves her dog Jesse, but she has trained it not to lick her on the face or anywhere else.

"I don't think people are aware of just how dangerous it could be," Bell said.

Years ago, Bell nearly died from a very rare bacterial infection while she was working at a veterinarian clinic in Parker.

"It was actually a bacteria that is normally carried in the mouths of cats and dogs," she said.

It started with a fever and chills, then Bell developed sepsis and organ failure.

"Went into respiratory failure. Kidney failure. Ended up being transferred to a hospital where I spent 21 days," Bell said.

Bell had her spleen removed as a child and doctors said she was more at risk for the infection because of her compromised immune system.

For the overall general population, this is very rare. For people most at risk of developing this rare bacteria are those who have had their spleens removed, liver failure, transplants, chemo or the elderly.

A deadly infection is extremely rare, but a dog's mouth can dig into some pretty nasty stuff each day, including garbage, other dogs' behinds and pet waste.