Seal finger

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Seal finger
Other namesspekkfinger (Norwegian); salrota (Baltic languages); salen i fingret ('in the Gulf of Finland')[1]
SpecialtyInfectious Disease
CausesContact with seals or other pinnipeds
TreatmentLarge doses of antibiotics, including tetracycline; previously amputation

Seal finger, also known as sealer's finger and spekk-finger (from the Norwegian for "blubber"),[2] is an infection that afflicts the fingers of seal hunters and other people who handle seals, as a result of bites or contact with exposed seal bones[citation needed]; it has also been contracted by exposure to untreated seal pelts.[citation needed] The State of Alaska Section of Epidemiology defines it as "a finger infection associated with bites, cuts, or scratches contaminated by the mouths, blood, or blubber of certain marine mammals".[3]

It can cause cellulitis, joint inflammation, and swelling of the bone marrow; untreated, the course of "seal finger" is slow and results often in thickened contracted joint.[3] Historically, seal finger was treated by amputation of the affected digits once they became unusable.[citation needed] It was first described scientifically in 1907.[4]

The precise nature of the organism responsible for seal finger is unknown, as it has resisted culturing because most cases are promptly treated with antibiotics;[3] however, as seal finger can be treated with tetracycline or similar antibiotics, the causative organism is most likely bacterial, or possibly fungal; in 1998, Baker, Ruoff, and Madoff[5] showed that the organism is most likely a species of Mycoplasma called Mycoplasma phocacerebrale. This Mycoplasma was isolated in an epidemic of seal disease occurring in the Baltic Sea.[6]


  1. ^ White, Colin P.; Jewer, David D. (Winter 2009). "Seal finger: A case report and review of the literature". Canadian Journal of Plastic Surgery. 17 (4): 133–5. doi:10.1177/229255030901700415. PMC 2827281. PMID 21119845.
  2. ^ Seal Finger, from Alaska Science Forum (article #335), by T. Neil Davis; published August 24, 1979; archived at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; retrieved August 18, 2011
  3. ^ a b c Seal Finger - An enigma and a challenge; State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin #17; published August 5, 1983; retrieved August 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Rodahl, Kåare (December 1952). ""Spekk-Finger" or Sealer's Finger" (PDF). Arctic. 5 (4): 235–40. JSTOR 40506548. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 August 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2011 – via the University of Calgary.
  5. ^ Baker, Ann Sullivan; Ruoff, Kathryn L.; Madoff, Sarabelle (November 1998). "Isolation of Mycoplasma Species from a Patient with Seal Finger". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 27 (5): 1168–70. doi:10.1086/514980. JSTOR 4481672. PMID 9827264.
  6. ^ Westley, Benjamin P.; Horazdovsky, Ryan D.; Michaels, Dina L.; Brown, Daniel R. (8 October 2015). "Identification of a Novel Mycoplasma Species in a Patient With Septic Arthritis of the Hip and Seal Finger". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 62 (4): 491–3. doi:10.1093/cid/civ875. PMID 26449564.

External links[edit]