The little Canadian girl that was dragged into a harbor by a sea lion over the weekend is now being treated for a rare seal finger disease.
According to ABC News, there are concerns that the incident could cause health complications. Her broken skin could have been infected by bacteria from the sea lion's mouth, according to officials at the Vancouver Aquarium.
A video went viral over the past week showing a sea lion grabbing the young girl's dress and pulling her into the water. According to marine life experts, the girl and a man who jumped in to help her could be at risk of getting a rare infection sometimes called seal finger.
The girl’s family was blasted after the incident. According to the CBC, there were several signs posted at the destination warning people not to feed the sea animals, but the family fed the sea lion. The animal also came up close to the girl's face, seemingly snapping at her, before dragging her by her dress.
"You wouldn't go up to a grizzly bear in the bush and hand him a ham sandwich, so you shouldn't be handing a thousand-pound wild mammal in the water slices of bread," said Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority. "And you certainly shouldn't be letting your little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once. Just totally reckless behavior."
The family of the child contacted the Vancouver Aquarium for help, after one of the facility's mammal trainers spoke about the seal finger during media interviews, according to aquarium spokeswoman Deana Lancaster.
"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.
Seal finger infections are caused by bacteria which live in the mouths of sea mammals like seals and sea lions, according to a 2009 published case report. Exposure through a cut in the skin can result in cellulitis and untreated severe infections 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," Lancaster told ABC News. She said that the condition can be "painful and potentially debilitating."
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