What Are Sea Lice? Culprit of Australian Boy's Leg Wounds Explained

Doctors were trying to work out what happened to Kanizay's legs on Saturday

Sam pulled up sore after playing football on Saturday and made a decision to soak his legs at Dendy Street Beach in Brighton.

A spokesperson for Monash Health, which oversees Dandenong Hospital where Sam was sent to, said they are still assessing the patient and it could be too early for his doctor to comment on his case.

The teenager had been standing in the water after playing soccer.

Shocked at the injuries caused to his son, Sam's father went down to Brighton Beach on Sunday and discovered the small sea bugs.

He felt a "needles-and-pins" sensation in his calves and feet but figured it was because the water was cold, he told interviewers from his hospital bed.

Amphipods feed largely on dead marine animals such as fish and crabs, and are themselves prey for larger marine animals.

"Mistaking amphipoda as "sea lice" is a perpetual problem", said Norenburg in an email with National Geographic.

Experts believe that these little bugs could be sea lice, a form of jellyfish OR could be tiny crustaceans. Most amphipods are herbivores while others are omnivorous scavengers and "some non-parasitic ones are particularly fond of blood if available". Sea lice are usually parasites of fish.

"Unless you're effectively numb, [usually] you're going to notice and get out of the water before that happens".

"Amphipods are sometimes referred to as "sea fleas"," Museums Victoria said.

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Experts said there were various possible reasons for the severity of the injury.

All Sam Kanizay did was cool his feet off in the water at Dendy Beach in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr Walker-Smith told Fairfax he believed the bleeding wouldn't stop because of the anti-coagulant being released by the fleas to stop the blood from clotting, in the same way leeches behave.

Prof Reina said the attack should not alarm people or deter them from swimming. He had never heard of any report that this species of amphipod was capable of causing this reaction, suggesting tests on Kanizay could show a predisposition to poor blood clotting or a particularly bad reaction.

Sam is not the first Melburnian attacked by sea fleas.

"Sand fleas only cause minor biting and itching", he said.

"We all need to go into the water and celebrate the bay and use it", he said.

In an interview with the New York Times, University of New South Wales associate professor Alistair Poore expressed room for doubt, saying, "You can attract a lot of animals in the sea with raw meat".

"He (Kanizay) must have been very, very cold and he wouldn't have felt it", added Weir, who experienced a similar injury on his forehead after a night dive 40 years ago.

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