Entries in Saliva (2)


Woman Fights Infection From Dog Saliva

WSBTV(DECATUR, Ga.) -- At 32 years old, nursing student Hannah Rinehart is hooked to a ventilator, her body healing after an amputation of her hands and feet.

The Decatur, Ga., woman, who is also a three-time cancer survivor, is fighting a rare bacterial infection, called capnocytophaga, which is found in the saliva of dogs but rarely affects people, her father, Doug Johnson, said.

During a weekend of yard work, Rinehart contracted a high fever, but held out seeking medical attention until her appointment that Monday, July 2, with her oncologist.

The married nursing student, who also has a business degree, changed careers after she successfully battled Hodgkin's lymphoma three times. The cancer first appeared when she was 18, Johnson said.

After the cancer re-appeared for the third time when she was she was in her mid-20s, Rinehart had a stem-cell transplant from her brother that has so far been successful, her father said.

Rinehart left the hospital seven years ago in July, hoping she'd only be back as a nurse.

But on July 2, on the recommendation of her oncologist, she was wheeled into Northside Hospital in Atlanta with a high fever. That evening, her father said, she went into septic shock.

"Her blood pressure was low and her kidneys and lungs were weakened," he said.

Doctors sent a sample of the bacteria attacking Rinehart's body to the Mayo Clinic, where it was identified as capnocytophaga, a common bacteria found in dog saliva that rarely harms the health of humans.

There's no way to directly tie the infection to Rinehart's 1-year-old puppy, her father said, but the family has its theories.

"Hannah would throw the ball for the dog and it would mouth her hand and forearm and she'd get scratches," Johnson said. "What we suppose is the fact she has had two bone-marrow transplants, her immune system is probably not that strong as a regular adult."

The infection continued to cut off circulation to Rinehart's extremities, leaving her parents and husband Mark a difficult decision to make.

"To not respond to the situation as it stands now would not be a display of faith, but rather a crude act of negligence," Mark Rinehart wrote on his wife's Facebook page before the surgery.

On July 26, doctors amputated Hannah Rinehart's hands and feet. "It was very obvious it needed to be done at that point," her father said. "We had been praying and just watching it get worse."

Rinehart has been sedated since the surgery, but has continued to make improvements.

Her 103.7-degree fever went down to 98.6 degrees Tuesday night, Mark Rinehart said.

And despite having another health obstacle thrown in her path, Rinehart and her family, who are devout Christians, are confident she'll be able to live a normal life.

"She is very strong. I don't even really remember her complaining about [the cancer] at all," her father said.

"We get the news and then you'd find out what to do and she kind of plugged away and kept going. After this, she'll be able to carry on and have a great life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mouth Bacteria Mix Might Signal Pancreatic Cancer

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Apple founder Steve Jobs’ recent death from pancreatic cancer focused attention on one of the fastest-spreading and deadliest malignancies for which there are no obvious red flags or screening tests.

But now, UCLA researchers may have ignited a spark of hope that a saliva test could one day detect pancreatic cancer.

People particularly dread pancreatic cancer because only 5 percent of patients are alive five years after they’re diagnosed.  Jobs was more fortunate than the majority of patients with the diagnosis, because his neuroendocrine tumor was more treatable and he survived nearly eight years from the time doctors found it.

The new optimism centered around saliva tests begins with the basic premise that the human mouth is a virtual bacterial zoo, home to more than 700 species.  There are good bacteria that help with digestion and immunity, and there are bad bacteria linked to gum disease that also turn up in artery-clogging plaque associated with heart disease.

Writing in the journal Gut, Dr. James J. Ferrell and his colleagues reported finding dramatic differences in the mixtures of bacterial species in the mouths of patients with pancreatic cancer and of healthy people.  Differences also emerged between the levels of particular oral bacteria in men and women with chronic pancreatitis -- an inflammatory disorder and risk factor for pancreatic cancer -- and healthy men and women.

The study, which appeared online Wednesday, was based on an initial comparison of bacterial species in the saliva of 10 patients whose pancreatic cancer hadn’t spread to other organs, and 10 healthy people.  When the researchers analyzed quantities of various bacterial species in the various saliva samples, they found significantly more Granulicatella adiacens bacteria in the spit of cancer patients than in the saliva of healthy comparison subjects.  They had significantly lower levels of Streptococcus mitis and Neisseria elongata bacteria than the healthy controls.

To bolster their findings, they dug a little deeper by then examining saliva samples from 28 pancreatic cancer patients, 28 healthy people and 27 people with chronic pancreatitis.  The G. adiacens levels were higher in the cancer patients than either group without cancer.

So far, they’re unable to say whether different combinations of bacteria are a cause or an effect of pancreatic cancer.  The study didn’t examine changes in oral bacteria after pancreatic cancer patients had their tumors removed, nor could it track changes in oral bacteria populations through the course of disease.

However, they said, their results suggested that saliva “is a scientifically feasible and credible biomarker source” for diseases outside the mouth and is potentially attractive because it’s non-invasive and inexpensive.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio