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Sea lions become sick from potentially fatal disease

Posted at 10:41 PM, Oct 16, 2018

Sea lions on the central coast are suffering from an outbreak of a potentially deadly disease.

The Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay says they are in the middle of the second largest outbreak on record and its happening up and down the California Coast.

If you are walking along the beach and find a sea lion tucked up in a fetal position, it might have leptospirosis.

The Marine Mammal Center says the potentially fatal disease occurs every four to five years.

“This bacterial infection affects the kidneys and it can even lead to kidney failure so sometimes you’ll see what we interpret as kind of a painful tucked up look in the sea lions,” said Diana Kramer, The Marine mammal center operation manager

Leptospirosis hasn’t been spotted since 2011 and researchers are wondering why.

“Why is it appearing after a few more years than we are used to,” questioned Kramer. “Why are we seeing it at this time and this high numbers?”

A sea lion infected by leptospirosis is rescued and taken back to the Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay for treatment.
Photo by: The Marine Mammal Center

From San Luis Obispo to Mendocino County, the center treated more than 200 infected California Sea Lions, 16 on the central coast.

“We give them fluids to get that moisture back to get them hydrated and help them feel better right away hopefully.”

During their 3-day hospital visit, sea lions will also take common antibiotics.

If you see a sea lion in that fetal position, marine biologists say it is important to keep a large distance.

You can report sick sea lions to The Marine Mammal Center here.

The Center relies on volunteers. To learn more about their volunteer program click here.