Stingrays and Catfish
Stingrays and catfish are similar in the fact that both cause local trauma and lead to envenomation. Medically, the major problem with these two fish is that they can leave their barbs behind in your skin or deep tissues and lead to infection. Some times this can be quite serious. I have had a few patients that have required surgery to remove barbs that have gone undetected for quite some time. One of these unfortunate individuals swore to me the fin of the catfish that stuck him came out completely intact.
Initially, after being finned by a catfish or a stingray, submersing the wound in hot water (not scalding!) for 30 to 90 minutes will provide quick and dramatic relief. This denatures or destroys the molecular structure of the venom and can be repeated if the pain starts to return. If the wound appears to be deep or continues to hurt or bleed this may be an indication that part of the barb is still within the wound and requires an x-ray or MRI. If there is any suspicion of the fin being broken off in the wound or that a joint is involved (like the knee or ankle) you need to be evaluated by a physician.
We all know what these are. In our costal waters we have several types with the scariest being the Portuguese Man-O-War. A good rule of thumb is that they all sting, with some being worse than others. The venom is produced from cells called cnidocytes. The venom itself is made up mostly of proteins and carbohydrates.
When someone is stung by a jellyfish, typically there is only a local yet painful burning or stinging sensation. However, sometimes an individual can have a severe systemic reaction (body wide, multiple organs) that can be very dangerous leading to shock and even possibly death. Thankfully, the vast majority of jellyfish stings are not this severe. Never the less, you should watch those individuals who are stung closely for signs of impending shock, which includes: anxiety, pale clammy skin, or even an altered level of consciousness.
For treatment of jellyfish stings, first remove any tentacles while remembering to protect yourself from being stung. Second, apply plain old vinegar to help inactivate the venom. Diluted rubbing alcohol, baking soda, lime juice and meat tenderizer can also be applied to neutralize the venom of our local jellyfish. Meat tenderizer is much easier to keep handy in your first aid kit for obvious reasons.
Lately, I seem to be catching more and larger moray eels. Few fish that I have ever boated seem to want to bite you more than these gnarly things. After I narrowly missed being bitten by the first two that I put in the boat I decided I would just start cutting the leader. The bites from these things can be very nasty. Bacteria such as Pseudomonas and Vibrio* have been cultured from even minor infected bite wounds from the critters.
If you ever get bitten by a moray eel, you can forget all about vinegar, meat tenderizer, hot water and what-not. These just won't help. You need to see a physician and get some antibiotics as soon as possible.
And a note to readers: Some things I find very interesting may bore you to death. If there is something you would like for me to write about in future issues, I would appreciate your input. Please e-mail me at: Feedback@gaffmag.net
Stingray Injury Treatment - Self-Care at Home
Care of the injured person begins at the scene and is first directed at safe rescue and removal of the victim from the water.
A stingray injury that does not need to be checked by a doctor is rare.
Copyright (c) 2005. E Medicine.com. Reprinted with permission.
Jellyfish Stings Treatment - Self-Care at Home
Care of the injured person begins immediately:
Marine Bites Treatment
Sea Urchin Puncture Treatment
Catfish Sting Treatment