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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


REISINGER, Ryan R.; PENFOLD, Miles; BESTER, Marthán N.  and  STEENKAMP, Gerhard. Seal bites at sub-Antarctic Marion Island: Incidence, outcomes and treatment recommendations. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2020, vol.91, n.1, pp.1-6. ISSN 2224-9435.

Seal biologists at Marion Island (Southern Ocean) are in frequent contact with seals. During research activities, biologists may be bitten by seals, yet no standardised protocol for treating such bites is in place. Information on 22 seal bite cases at Marion Island was collected. Treatment of these bites varied, reflecting a need for standardised protocols for the treatment of bites. Recommendations for the in-field treatment of bites are presented. Five of the 22 cases had some symptoms which resembled 'seal finger' - a zoonotic infection, usually of the hands, that is contracted after a person comes into contact with tissues of seals or is bitten by one. However, in four of these cases, symptoms subsided within 4 days without antibiotic treatment; in the fifth case antibiotics were administered and symptoms subsided in 4 days. There is little evidence of the occurrence of seal finger at Marion Island, but this deserves further investigation.

Keywords : marine mammal; bite; treatment; infection; zoonoses.

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