Stingrays are best described as triangular, flat marine creatures that have a tapering tail armed with one or more spines. It is important to note that stingrays are rarely aggressive and usually flee once threatened. Nevertheless, stingrays are also known to attack humans if they feel cornered or accidentally stepped on. Their common reaction is to whip up the spine on their tail.
Take note that the spine is razor-sharp and layered with toxic venom that can cause severe pain and swelling. Injuries are usually sustained on the leg or foot area. There are important considerations to bear in mind when treating stingray poisoning and wounds.
Treating stingray poisoning
You have to perform these measures when treating a stingray wound.
- The wound must be washed with salt water.
- Remove any leftover debris from the wound site. Avoid pouring vinegar or urine on the wound site.
- During the initial 60 minutes, the individual will feel increased pain in the sting site and this can spread, resulting to the swelling of the affected limb. Take note that the wound will also turn bluish-white in color.
- Call for emergency assistance and provide the following information to the healthcare professional – age, weight, current condition of the individual, type of stingray if it was identified, time sting was sustained and area of the body stung.
- Follow the instructions given by the healthcare professional whether to transport the individual to the hospital and any first aid measures that must be performed.
- Once the individual is taken to the hospital, following measures are performed such as washing the sting site, removal of foreign material, soaking the wound and administration of antibiotic or anti-tetanus. The symptoms are also treated which includes groin or armpit pain, sweating, bleeding, severe pain at the sting site, swelling, generalized cramps, weakness, breathing difficulty, headache, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, diarrhea, fainting and paralysis.
- The recovery period from a stingray poisoning can take approximately 24-48 hours.
Treating a stingray wound
- Remove the individual from the water quickly and start squeezing out the area surrounding the wound to draw out blood that contains the toxin. Take note that the flesh surrounding the wound will turn bluish in color since some of the cells have died.
- Bring the individual to the emergency department as soon as possible. A tetanus shot might be required as well as antibiotics. An X-ray can be performed to check for any leftover parts of the spine inside the wound. The pain can last for several hours.
- If medical care could not be given right away, an important measure to bear in mind is to put the individual in a hot tub and continue to massage and squeeze the area surrounding the wound. This will keep the wound from bleeding continuously and can help in drawing out the toxin.