This is the next post based upon my presentation given at the Wilderness Medical Society Annual Meeting held in Snowmass, Colorado from July 24-29, 2009. The presentation was entitled “Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water.”” The topic was an overview of hazardous marine animals and it was delivered by me. In the previous post, there was information about shark attacks. In this post, there is information about envenomations incurred in the marine environment.
Marine venoms, similar to other toxins and poisons that originate in the animal and plant kingdoms, may cause a wide range of human physiological derangements. It is very important to remember that certain of these venoms, such as that elaborated by jellyfish, may invoke a serious allergic reaction.
Stingrays are a commonly incriminated group of envenoming animals. There are more than 10 species found in U.S. coastal waters, with from 1 to 4 venomous “stings” found on the top of the caudal appendage (“tail’). The spine is a serrated cartilaginous structure that houses venom glands covered by a fragile tissue sheath. Thus, when the spine enters a human victim, most commonly on the lower limb (ray is stepped upon) or upper limb (ray is handled), the tissue sheath is disrupted and venom enters the wound. Thus the injury is just a puncture/cut and an envenomation. Read more »