Sea Creature Injuries and Fish Poisoning
How do I treat jellyfish stings?
Take off any visible tentacles. Use gloves or a towel so that you do not get more stings. Jellyfish tentacles keep stinging even if they are not attached to the jellyfish and even if the jellyfish is dead. The tentacles are the long stringy parts that hang down under the jellyfish body.
Put salt water or vinegar on the area for 30 minutes or until the pain stops. Do not use fresh water. That will make the tentacles sting again and give you more pain. Ice packs are good for easing the pain.
See a doctor if the pain lasts for more than one hour, if you feel faint, or if you have trouble breathing.
Treatment of Severe Allergic Reaction to Jellyfish
Remove any remnant of allergen (i.e., jellyfish tentacles, foreign material)
Epinephrine injection, if available
Decadron injection or tablets
Antihistamine, if available
Wash out wounds or injury with alcohol, vinegar or sea water
Call for help and immediate transport
Treat for shock
CPR if no pulse or respirations
Pain relief, if available
How do I treat a sea urchin sting?
Soak the stinging area in hot water to ease the pain. Have a doctor see if the sea urchin's spine has to be surgically removed. Do not try to take the spine out by yourself. The spines break easily, and you are not likely to be able to remove all of the spines that are in your skin.
Salt Water Catfish
The fins of the saltwater catfish have a complex toxin made up of a mix of high molecular weight proteins and low molecular weight compounds. Like many marine toxins, this venom is believed to be denatured at temperatures above 105 F.
Besides intense pain that appears to be out of proportion for the physical injury, systemic symptoms can occur but are rare. They include muscle cramps, tremor, fatigue, syncope and even CV collapse. Treatment in the ER consists of immersion of the body part in hot water at approx. 110 F, debridement (cleansing) of the wound completely and liberal irrigation with hot water. Tetanus coverage is provided. It's a good idea to treat with antibiotics that cover Vibrio vulnificus, usually a 3rd gen cephalosporin.
Severe allergic reactions can occur. If you are in a boat and cannot get to hot water, a good preparation to use is a paste of baking soda and meat tenderizer. This paste is also said to be effective for jelly fish stings.
How do I treat a stingray injury?
Put direct pressure on the injury to control heavy bleeding. Call an ambulance. If there is only a little bleeding, soak the area in hot water to help ease the pain. Be sure to see a doctor for follow-up care. Your tetanus shot will have to be updated.
What is fish poisoning?
There are two kinds of fish poisoning.
Ciguatera (say this: seeg-wha-terra) poisoning happens when you eat reef fish that have eaten a poisonous food. This poison, a toxin, does not go away when the fish is cooked.
Scombroid poisoning can happen if a fish was not properly cooled after it was caught. A substance like histamine builds up in some fish when they get too warm. If you eat them, you react to the histamine that is released in your body
Who gets fish poisoning?
Anyone who eats fish can get ciguatera or scombroid poisoning. Fish poisoning is more common in Hawaii, Florida, New York, Washington, and Connecticut.
How can I tell I have ciguatera or scombroid poisoning?
The symptoms of ciguatera poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and numbness. You may notice a change in your ability to feel cold. You will think something feels hot when it really is cold.
The symptoms of scombroid poisoning are similar to other allergic reactions, such as flushing, nausea, vomiting, hives, and difficulty breathing.
There are no blood or lab tests for these poisonings.
How is fish poisoning treated?
Ciguatera poisoning is treated with medicines that help ease your symptoms. There is no medicine that will cure the poisoning. The symptoms go away over time.
Scombroid poisoning is treated like other allergic reactions with medicine that blocks the histamine in your blood. If you get scombroid poisoning, it does not mean you are allergic to fish.
How long can I expect to be sick?
The symptoms of ciguatera poisoning last for one to two weeks. How long they last depends on the amount of toxin you have in your body. The symptoms can come back any time you eat an affected fish.
The symptoms of scombroid poisoning last six to eight hours after you eat the toxin. The symptoms can come back any time you eat fish that has not been refrigerated properly.
How can I prevent fish poisoning?
To avoid ciguatera poisoning, don't eat the fish that often carry the ciguatera toxin. This includes amberjack, grouper, snapper, sturgeon, king mackerel, barracuda, and moray eel.
The poison is more concentrated in the internal organs, like the liver, so you should never eat them.
To avoid scombroid poisoning, don't eat any fish that has not been refrigerated properly.
Where can I get more information?
E Medicine: Instant Access to the Minds of Medicine
Web site address: http://www.emedicine.com
Divers Alert Network
Web site address: http://www.diversalertnetwork.org