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Stingray

A stingray is a sea animal with a whip-like tail. The tail contains sharp spines that contain venom. This article describes the effects of a stingray sting.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Stingray venom

Where Found

  • Stingrays
  • Related species

Symptoms

  • Airways and lungs
    • Breathing difficulty
  • Heart and blood
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Low blood pressure
  • Nervous system
    • Fainting
    • Generalized cramps
    • Headache
    • Paralysis
    • Weakness
  • Skin
    • Bleeding
    • Pain and swelling of lymph nodes near the area of the sting
    • Severe pain at site of sting
    • Sweating
    • Swelling
  • Stomach and intestines
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

Home Treatment

Wash the area with salt water. Remove any foreign material at the wound site. Contact an emergency room. Soak the wound in the hottest water the patient can tolerate for 30 - 90 minutes, if instructed to do so.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the marine animal
  • Time of the sting
  • Location of the sting

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital, and any appropriate first aid that can be administered prior to arrival.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to expect at the emergency room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Washing of the area
  • Removal of any foreign material possible
  • Soaking of the wound
  • Medicines to treat symptoms (such as antibiotics for infection)

The patient may receive:

  • Breathing support, if needed
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)

Expectations (prognosis)

Recovery usually takes about 24 - 48 hours. Death has occurred when the patient's chest or abdomen was punctured.

References

Isbister GK, Caldicott DG. Trauma and evenomations from marine fauna. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 196.

Updated: 12/15/2011

Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.


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