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Marine Animal Bites

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US Army First Aid Manual
Fundamental Criteria for First Aid
Basic Measures for First Aid
First Aid for Special Wounds
First Aid for Fractures
First Aid for Climatic Injuries
First Aid for Bites and Stings
First Aid in Toxic Environments
First Aid for Psychological Reactions
Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary



Marine Animal Bites

6-4. Marine (Sea) Animals

With the exception of sharks and barracuda, most marine animals will not deliberately attack. The most frequent injuries from marine animals are wounds by biting, stinging, or puncturing. Wounds inflicted by marine animals can be very painful, but are rarely fatal.

a. Sharks, Barracuda, and Alligators. Wounds from these marine animals can involve major trauma as a result of bites and lacerations. Bites from large marine animals are potentially the most life threatening of all injuries from marine animals. Major wounds from these animals can be treated by controlling the bleeding, preventing shock giving basic life support, splinting the injury, and by securing prompt medical aid.

b. Turtles, Moray Eels, and Corals. These animals normally inflict minor wounds. Treat by cleansing the wound(s) thoroughly and by splinting if necessary.

c. Jellyfish, Portuguese men-of-war, Anemones, and Others. This group of marine animals inflict injury by means of stinging cells in their tentacles. Contact with the tentacles produces burning pain with a rash and small hemorrhages on the skin. Shock, muscular cramping, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory distress may also occur. Gently remove the clinging tentacles with a towel and wash or treat the area. Use diluted ammonia or alcohol, meat tenderizer, and talcum powder. If symptoms become severe or persist, seek medical aid.

d. Spiny Fish, Urchins, Stingrays, and Cone Shells. These animals inject their venom by puncturing with their spines. General signs and symptoms include swelling, nausea, vomiting, generalized cramps, diarrhea, muscular paralysis, and shock. Deaths are rare. Treatment consists of soaking the wounds in hot water (when available) for 30 to 60 minutes. This inactivates the heat sensitive toxin. In addition, further first aid measures (controlling bleeding, applying a dressing, and so forth) should be carried out as necessary.

CAUTION

    Be careful not to scald the casualty with water that is too hot because the pain of the
    wound will mask the normal reaction to heat.

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