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First Aid for Moray Eel Bite

Last updated Oct. 24, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Eptalon

The moray eel is a type of fish that is long like a snake with a fearsome mouth. It is a shy creature but can attack when threatened. Moray eel bites can result in severe laceration or even the loss of a digit (finger or toe).


What is Moray Eel Bite?

The moray eel is a type of fish that is long like a snake with a fearsome mouth. It is a shy creature but can attack when threatened. Moray eel bites can result in severe laceration or even the loss of a digit (finger or toe).

What are the Causes of Moray Eel Bite?

Most common causes of Moray Eel Bites include (but are not limited to):

  • Deep sea divers
  • Coral reef divers
  • Handling these creatures, hand-feeding them
  • Keeping them as pets in aquaria

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Moray Eel Bite?

The signs and symptoms of a Moray Eel Bite may be mild or severe and could include:

  • Local injury, cuts, gashes, and laceration; usually on the arms (hands, fingers) or legs
  • Presence of several bite marks (a row of teeth marks may be visible)
  • Puncture wounds with severe bleeding
  • Pain (that can be intense)
  • Swelling of the area
  • Temporary loss of function in the affected limb
  • Loss of finger or toe

How is First Aid administered for Moray Eel Bite?

If a Moray Eel Bite (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 pressure to arrest bleeding (if possible)
  • 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 Moray Eel Bite?

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 Moray Eel Bite?

The prognosis of Moray Eel Bite is dependent on the severity of the bite. The prognosis is generally good with proper treatment.

How can Moray Eel Bite be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Moray Eel Bites include:

  • Avoid making an attempt to touch or handle marine animals unnecessarily, even if they are pets
  • Ensure safety precautions while cleaning marine animal aquariums; wear gloves and protective suit
  • Avoid any direct hand-feeding these eels
  • Avoid trying to grab or pull other marine creatures (animals or plants) from dark crevices, rocky nooks, or holes. Moray eels are known to hide in such areas in order to ambush capture their prey
  • 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 (especially while exploring underwater caves, rocky terrains, and coral reefs)
  • Generally be aware or watchful of the waters you are in (to the extent possible)
  • Marine life explorers and sea adventurers are required to carry marine first aid kit

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

Do’s:

  • 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
  • Immobilize the affected site (arm or leg)
  • Arrest any bleeding

Don’ts:

  • 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

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 5, 2016
Last updated: Oct. 24, 2018