Last week, a video went viral online, showing a young girl being pulled into water by a sea lion, who mistook her white dress for food.
The girl, along with a man who jumped in to help her, were pulled to safety; but marine life experts have warned that they could have been exposed to a rare infection called “seal finger”.
During the encounter with the sea lion, the young girl received a wound and is being treated in hospital for a possible bacterial infection.
Marine life experts have warned that the girl could be at risk of getting the rare infection, which is caused by bacteria from a sea mammal's mouth.
“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,” said a spokesperson for the aquarium where the ordeal took place.
Seal finger infections are caused by different kinds of Mycoplasma bacteria, which live in the mouths of sea mammals like seals and sea lions.
Exposure via a cut in the skin can often result in cellulitis or a soft-tissue infection, and untreated infections that become severe can lead to loss of fingers or limbs.
“If any member of our animal care team receives a bite from a seal 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,” said the aquarium spokesperson.
The young girl's father, who was been identified by the last name Lau, admitted that his daughter had been too close to the sea lions.
Lau, a resident of Vancouver, credited the child's grandfather's quick-thinking for the positive outcome.
"If he had one- or two-second doubt about that, my girl could have been gone by then. That reaction makes him a hero," he told the CBC.
We're relieved that the little girl is safe, and on the mend.