Last week, a six-year-old girl was attacked by a sea lion and dragged underwater at a pier in British Columbia, Canada. Now, she is being treated for a rare disease which can reportedly lead to amputation and even death.
The unidentified girl was bitten by the animal as she sat on the dock in Richmond, British Columbia. As she was pulled in, the girl’s grandfather jumped into the water and rescued the girl, who suffered minor injuries to her back.
However, according to ABC News, the girl is now being treated in case she has contracted a rare bacteria, mycoplasma phocacerebrale, which has a high degree of antibiotic resistance. Vancouver Aquarium’s Deana Lancaster said the bacteria is incredibly harmful to humans and can event result in death.
‘If any member of our animal care team receives a bite from a sea or sea lion, they take a letter from our vet with them to the hospital, which explains that the infection is resistant to some antibiotics.’
According to a 2009 published report, seal finger infections are caused by different kinds of Mycoplasma bacteria, which live in the mouths of water-based animals such as seals and sea lions. Exposure can often result in cellulitis or soft-tissue infection, and untreated severe infections can lead to loss of fingers or limbs.
Lancaster said the infection can be tricky to treat, due to the fact that ‘mycoplasma bacteria are the smallest form of bacteria and do not have a cell wall, which is the primary target for many antibiotics like penicillin.’ Before the invention of antibiotic, seal hunters risked losing limbs to the disease.
However, luckily, Lancaster said the young girl is receiving all the proper treatment:
“The family saw the media reports and got in touch with us. She did get a superficial wound, and she’s going to get the right treatment,” Lancaster told ABC News.