Viral video of girl snatched by sea lion raises “seal finger” awarenessEnlarge (credit: WAVY TV 10)
When a video showing a six-year-old girl getting yanked into the sea by a feisty sea lion went viral this week, her parents quickly received international flak—and some potentially critical health information.

The online fuss is raising awareness of a severe infection called seal finger, along with some of the other dangers of messing with sea lions.
The infection, which can lead to severe inflammation and amputations if not properly treated, is rare but well-known to marine life experts and fisherman.
It’s caused by Mycoplasma phocacerebrale, a type of bacteria known to live in the mouths of seals and sea lions. Mycoplasma species have several notable features, but a critical one for seal finger is that they’re difficult to kill with many standard antibiotics—something the parents of the snatched six-year-old would clearly want to know.
If it weren’t for the Internet, they might not.
The girl, who was swiftly retrieved from the harbor by her quick-thinking grandfather, is reported to have a 5-by-10 centimeter wound on her lower body from her sea lion encounter. Her parents were unaware of the risk of seal finger infection until media reports about the viral video included marine experts, who mentioned the danger.

The parents have since consulted with marine experts and doctors.

Though it’s not certain that she has the infection, she’s receiving antibiotics as a precaution.
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