What is Cone Snail Sting?
The cone snail is a venomous sea snail that is an ocean bottom dweller. It is a very slow creature, and hence, relies on its highly potent harpoon-like sting to paralyze and kill its prey. They can inflict painful stings with the release of potent venom, when they are handled.
What are the Causes of Cone Snail Sting?
Most common causes of Cone Snail Stings include (but are not limited to):
- Exposure to cone snail in the deep ocean; generally deep sea divers are at risk
- Wading in ocean waters without suitable protective clothing
- Keeping them as pets in aquariums
- Picking up cone snails with ones bare hands
- Walking barefoot on the beach or in shallow sea water
- Handling cone snails, either alive or dead
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cone Snail Sting?
Signs and symptoms of Cone Snail Stings vary according to the type of species the individual is exposed to and the amount of toxin injected. The symptoms may be mild or severe and could include:
- Stinging pain lasting for several hours
- Skin rashes, burning sensation
- Swelling of the wound, bluish discoloration around the puncture site
- Tingling and numbness in the extremity
- Breathing difficulties
- Muscle paralysis
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Reduced or blurred vision
- Difficulty in speaking
- Severe fatigue
How is First Aid administered for Cone Snail Sting?
If a Cone Snail Sting (or sting or bite of a marine creature) is suspected, it is always important to call your local emergency helpline number (or 911 in the US) without any delay, and provide as much information as possible, even if the individual does not have any symptoms.
Until medical help arrives:
- Move the individual away from the water or incident spot
- Make a note of the exact time of the incident and notify the emergency medical personnel accordingly
- Use hot water to inactivate any remaining toxin
- Use pressure bandage to immobilize the affected site
- Try to identify or locate the marine animal (only if safely possible) and keep the medical personnel informed
- DO NOT give anything orally to the individual
- Unless directed by the physician, DO NOT give any medication
Who should administer First Aid for Cone Snail Sting?
The individual himself/herself or someone nearby may begin to administer First Aid. Call your local emergency helpline number or 911 immediately as mentioned before.
What is the Prognosis of Cone Snail Sting?
The prognosis of Cone Snail Sting is dependent on the potency of the toxin, the severity of reaction, and timely manner in which treatment is administered.
How can Cone Snail Sting be Prevented?
A few helpful tips to prevent Cone snail Sting include:
- Avoid making an attempt to touch or handle marine animals unnecessarily, even if they are pets
- Do not ignore warnings of lifeguards or health officials at the beach
- Wear protective clothing if you plan to swim or dive in infested areas
- Wear protective footwear while walking on beach sand
- Generally be aware or watchful of the waters you are in (to the extent possible)
- Ensure safety precautions while cleaning marine animal aquariums
What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?
- Call your local emergency helpline number (or 911) for help
- Remove the victim immediately from the water
- When in doubt, wash the affected area with seawater and not freshwater
- If possible, use hot water to repeatedly wash the wound
- Do not hesitate to call your emergency help services
- Do not medicate the individual, unless advised by a healthcare professional
- Do not move the affected region of the body too much
- Do not run or exercise which might increase the circulation of toxin in the body
- Do not elevate the affected area above the heart level, since this can also increase circulation of the toxin