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First Aid Treatment of Marine Animal Stings

FIRST AID TREATMENT

Blue-ringed octopus

Stonefish

Stingray

Sea snakes
Sea urchin

Hot Water Treatment

BLUE RINGED OCTOPUS

DISTRIBUTION
Widespread around Australian Coast (especially southern N.S.W.), as well as many Indo-pacific Countries

SIZE AND APPEARANCE
May grow to 15-20cm. in diameter with tentacles extended. Usually yellowish-brown but when irritated, many small electric-blue rings appear making it look very attractive.

SYMPTOMS & SIGNS

Minor bite from beak underneath body (often painless). The venom is injected from the salivary glands.

Numbness of the lips and tongue may occur within minutes.

In serious envenomation weakness and breathing difficulty develops rapidly.

In severe, untreated stings respiratory failure occurs, leading to death from lack of oxygen unless immediate expired air resuscitation is commenced.

TREATMENT

Expired air resuscitation – or artificial ventilation in hospital.

Compressive bandaging.

Spontaneous breathing usually returns in 3-10 hours.

STONEFISH

DISTRIBUTION

Tropical Australian (and Indo-Pacific) waters

SIZE AND APPEARANCE

A true fish 20-30 cms long. It has tough, warty skin that may be covered with slime. It is usually the colour of its surrounds (frequent-ly dark brown). Along the back of the fish are 13 spines, which when stepped on, penetrate the skin of the victim injecting venom.

SYMPTOMS

Immediate, severe pain which may cause the patient to become frantic, or delirious.

TREATMENT

Place stung limb in hot water (remember to test yourself first!).

STINGRAY

DISTRIBUTION
All tropical oceans

APPEARANCE
Large flat-shaped fish with whip-like tail.

INJURY
Stingrays often burrow under the sand in shallow water. The usual method of injury is a reflex forward whip of the tail when the `wings' are trodden on. The tail contains one or more sharp barbs, which may embed in the skin of the victim and break off, or glance across the skin causing a laceration that may be quite deep and extensive.

SYMPTOMS

The wound is usually (though not always) acutely painful.

Most occur on the lower limbs but there have now been two deaths in Australia after the barb penetrated the heart.

Other serious injuries have also occurred after the barb penetrated the chest or abdomen.

TREATMENT

Immerse the wounded area in hot water (remember to test yourself first!).

Seek immediate medical attention, as the wound must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent infection, and tetanus immunization given.

Any wound to the chest or abdomen must be referred to a doctor.

SEA SNAKES

DISTRIBUTION
Mainly tropical Indo-Pacific region, although they are found in many cooler waters

SIZE AND APPEARANCE
Sea snakes may grow to several meters in length. They are similar in appearance to land snakes but have a flattened, oar-like tail. Unlike eels, they have no gills.

SYMPTOMS & SIGNS

Relatively painless bite followed by symptoms including drowsiness, vomiting, weakness, visual disturbances, breathing problems and muscle pains.

TREATMENT

Compression bandaging.

Transfer to hospital for antivenom.

May need cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

SEA URCHINS

DISTRIBUTION
All oceans

APPEARANCE
"spiky balls" of varying sizes having numerous long spines.

SYMPTOMS

As they are often present in cracks of rocks they are usually not seen until the spines puncture the feet of surfers or fishermen clambering on the rocks.

The puncture wounds are painful and the spines may break off in the wound.

TREATMENT

Place affected limb in hot water (remember to test on yourself first!).

Referral to a Doctor is necessary as the spine must be removed surgically, and tetanus prophylaxis given.

 

HOT WATER TREATMENT

First, test the temperature of the water Color with your own limb. Because of the pain of envenomation, the victim's may be unable to feel the heat of the water with the affected limb; a severe or painful burn could result!

After the water has been tested, the affected limb is immersed in hot water until the pain is reduced, or relieved. It may be necessary to change the water, or `top it up' several times - don't forget to test each time!