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Feature Article

Marine bites and stings: first aid and medical treatment

Peter J Fenner

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Abstract

Despite there being many species of jellyfish and venomous marine animals, the first aid and medical treatment of their bites and stings can be grouped simply.

Key Points

  • The use of ice or cold packs will help to reduce the skin pain caused by jellyfish stings.
  • Pressure immobilisation bandaging is useful to retain large amounts of venom in one area, reducing absorption into the body until medical treatment is obtained.
  • Heat treatment (with hot water) relieves the pain of penetrating spines caused by animals such as stingrays and stonefish.
  • Antivenom is available for Chironex box jellyfish, sea snake, and stonefish envenomation.
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be necessary for severe cases of marine envenomation.

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