[Marine life envenomations: example in New Caledonia]

F Rual
Médecine Tropicale: Revue du Corps de Santé Colonial 1999, 59 (3): 287-97
Marine life in the waters of New Caledonia is extraordinarily rich. However some of the animals inhabiting this wonderland are dangerous including a number of venomous species. A retrospective study conducted at the Territorial Hospital in Noumea for the three-year period between 1995 and 1998 showed that nearly 200 people/year were victims of envenomation by marine animals. Findings also indicated that the incidence of envenomation was rising as the practice of marine activities by the local population and tourists increased. Venomous species can be classified into 4 categories according to the mechanism of envenomation, i.e., biting animals such as sea snakes, cephalopoda, and eels; stinging animals including not only fish such as scorpion fish (Pterois, stonefish), sting-rays, saltwater catfish, surgeon fish, and flatfish but also cones and crown of thorns (Acanthaster planci); animals with contact venoms such as cnidaria (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones, and men-of-war), glaucus, sea cucumbers (holothurioidae), and sponges; and animals with more than one envenomation apparatus such as sea urchins and sea worms which can bite and sting. Study focused on the characteristics of each species including biology, envenomation apparatus, and chemical composition and action of the venom; pharmacological and clinical aspects of envenomation; and management and prevention of accidents.

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