Mycoplasmas are devoid of a cell wall and are a pear-shaped sphere. They are the smallest group of bacteria capable of self-reproduction. This gram-negative group is non-motile, but capable of gliding across liquid surfaces. Mycoplasmas appear to be important saprophytes, commensals, parasites, and pathogens, although their role in nature and disease is not yet fully understood.
An unidentified species of mycoplasma is the cause of seal-finger. Also known as spekk-finger (blubber-finger), this disease can be transmitted from an infected seal to humans through a cut in the skin, most often in a finger. Within a few days, the infected finger swells, becomes taut and shiny, and the flesh becomes soft. These symptoms are accompanied by extreme pain. Thirty years ago, amputation was the usual cure for seal-finger; today, infections are treated with antibiotics.