Diagnosis and management of injuries from dangerous marine life

Thomas P Brown
MedGenMed: Medscape General Medicine 2005, 7 (3): 5
Injuries from marine life encompass a wide spectrum, from mild stings to severe bites. Fortunately most of the injuries are mild, although some may be significant, resulting in death. Most of these injuries can be treated by family physicians with a knowledge of the cause of the pathology. Over the years, there have been many treatment options. Some have actually caused an increase in severity. An important rule in treating these injuries is to inactivate the venom, treat the local reaction or injury, and treat the systemic sequelae. Jellyfish stings are the most common type of marine injury. The tentacles possess nematocysts, which are stinging units that are inactivated by the application of vinegar. Sea urchin and stingray injuries require the removal of the imbedded spines after the wound is soaked in hot water. Coral, sea bathers eruption, and swimmer's itch require thorough scrubbing and irrigation. Sea snakes, cone shells, and venomous fish possess a neurotoxin that requires close monitoring in the event of cardiopulmonary collapse. All of these injuries require tetanus status monitoring and consideration of coverage for infectious sequelae.

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