A man in Germany died tragically after being licked by his dog, a medical journal reported.

The 63-year-old reportedly caught a rare infection from his pet's saliva, after having been healthy prior to being struck down with the devastating disease, doctors said.

The case was reported by doctors from the Rote Kreuz Krankenhaus in Bremen, Germany, the Daily Mail reported.

The man spent more than two weeks in hospital with a catalogue of conditions including pneumonia, gangrene and a fever of 41C.

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He had been infected with Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacteria which is normally transmitted by bites - but can be spread through just a lick.

The man first went to hospital with flu-like symptons, which included a fever and laboured breathing.

By the time he started medical treatment the man already had severe sepsis, the doctors, said and needed intensive care to try and save his life.

As his condition deteriorated, a rash spread on his face and he had nerve pain and bruises on his legs.

The condition progressed to his kidneys, his liver shut down and he had blood clotting in his blood vessels. Eventually skin started to rot away, leading to a cardiac arrest.

He was resuscitated after his heart stopped and put onto life support.

The C. canimorsus infection he suffered from is most often triggered by bites, the doctors said.

They were surprised it happened after licking alone, which probably only transmitted small numbers of bacteria.

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The bug is rare and affects only one in every 1.5million people.

It is fatal in around 28 to 31 per cent of cases.

Normally, the doctors added, only people with weakened immune systems were seriously affected by the bacteria but this case showed it can happen to anyone.

The man, from Bremen in Germany, initially went to hospital with a fever. Photo / Supplied
The man, from Bremen in Germany, initially went to hospital with a fever. Photo / Supplied

The man did not even have an open wound to begin with, which they said could have explained the more serious illness.

The team, led by Dr Naomi Mader, wrote: "Pet owners with flu-like symptoms should urgently seek medical advice when their symptoms exceed those of a simple viral infection, which in this case were [breathing problems and rash].

"Physicians confronted with such patients should ask about contact with dogs and cats."

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After the man's cardiac arrest he was kept on life support but rapidly deteriorated.

He developed a fungal infection in his lungs, which led to suspected pneumonia; blisters over his entire body and gangrene in his fingers and toes; and caught MRSA.

Scans of his brain revealed he had a massive build-up of fluid in his brain, which was causing permanent damage to the organ.

Because of this and multiple organs failing, doctors and his family stopped the life support and the man died 16 days after being admitted to hospital.

The case report was published in the European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine.