The family of a Sudbury man, who passed away after a rare bacterial infection caused by a bite from his dog, is sharing his story as a warning to others.
Sylvain Boissonneault died on June 8 at 56 years old after being bitten by his own dog, which led to a Capnocytophaga bacteria infection.
“His younger dog Tinkerbell, which he calls Bell, she had seizures. And while she was having the seizure, he didn’t want her to swallow her tongue so he put his hand in there and she clamped down — not in any malicious way — and bit his thumb,” said Boissonneault’s sister Carolyn Chevrette.
Chevrette said her brother figured he needed stitches but never had the wound checked.
He even brought Bell to the vet but never had the bite examined.
Dr. Andrew Armstrong is the Martindale Animal Clinic veterinarian who treated the dog.
“I was the veterinarian that saw Mr. Boissonneault with his canine family member on the first weekend this month during an emergency visit. The entire staff of the clinic were incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of Sylvain. He was a loving and dedicated pet owner,” Dr. Armstrong said.
“When dealing with cases such as this, we always stress the importance of having any bite wound, big or small, human or animal, checked by a health care professional. The particular bug that infected Sylvain is commonly found in the mouths of dogs, (it causes) very few issues for them, but obviously, in Sylvain’s case, had the chance to develop into a very serious infection.”
He urges people to always take every bite seriously.
Two days after Boissonneault was bitten, he developed a fever and contacted a virtual clinic, mentioning the bite.
The doctor said it was likely influenza, his family told, but on June 7, his symptoms got worse. “He was dizzy, he was sweating, he had a high fever, but he was home alone. So in the morning, he called an ambulance,” Chevrette said.
Upon arriving at the hospital, blood work discovered that he had Capnocytophaga bacteria present and was given a 50/50 chance of survival, she added.
“He told me ‘everything was going to be fine,’ that he would be out in five days and then throughout the day, his liver had failed, his kidneys failed, he had pneumonia, he had the bacteria and then throughout the day they kept doing blood work constantly and it seemed okay,” Chevrette said.
“Forty-five minutes before he passed, that’s when we were told ‘the blood work is not looking good’ and we went in the room to be with him and then while we were in there, his heart failed.”
His sister said she is sharing her brother’s story as a warning to others that while this bacteria is common, her brother’s reaction to it was not.
“I mean the dog is still with us, she’s fine. She’s not malicious. There’s nothing wrong with her. It’s just one of those things, it’s very rare for people to contract this bacteria. The stats in 2010 only show worldwide 200 people that have passed from this bacteria. So I’m almost positive that it’s the first case in Sudbury of someone passing from this bacteria.”
Boissonneault leaves behind his mother, sister and two daughters – 12-year-old Jasmine and 8-year-old Arey-Elle. He owned AitTech Heating Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.
His funeral will be June 27.