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    Wilderness: Weeverfish Sting

    Weeverfish Sting Overview

    Weeverfish are colorful fish that can grow up to 50 cm (1.5 feet) in length. They live in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. They are usually found buried in the sand or mud. Weeverfish are aggressive and may strike a scuba diver without warning. Even when dead, weeverfish can cause a serious wound from spines containing neurotoxin venom, which can cause death.

    Weeverfish Sting Symptoms

    The following symptoms may occur following a weeverfish sting:

    More severe reactions involve:

    Death is possible.

    Weeverfish Sting Treatment

    Treatment for weeverfish stings includes the following steps:

    • Immerse the affected area in water as hot as the person who has been stung can tolerate for 30-90 minutes. Repeat as necessary to control pain.
    • Use tweezers to remove any spines in the wound. Symptoms may not go away until all of the spines have been removed.
    • Scrub the wound with soap and water and then flush extensively with fresh water.
    • Wounds should be left open.
    • Hydrocortisone cream may be applied 2-3 times daily for itching. Discontinue immediately if any signs of infection appear.
    • Usually wound infection following a weeverfish sting is rare.
    • If early signs of infection, such as redness or heat, occur, apply topical antibiotic ointment (bacitracin) 3 times per day.
    • If an infection becomes worse oral antibiotics are usually recommended.Continue antibiotics for at least 5 days after all signs of infection have cleared. Inform the doctor of any drug allergy prior to starting any antibiotic. Certain antibiotics cause sensitivity to the sun, so avoid sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wear protective clothing while in the sun, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat, and use a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.
    • Pain may be relieved with 1-2 acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours, 1-2 ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) every 6-8 hours, or both.
    • Tetanus prophylaxis as needed.
    • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be necessary.

     

     

    When to Seek Medical Care

    If stung by a weeverfish, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Consult a doctor about treatment with available medications.

    Synonyms and Keywords

    weeverfish sting, weeverfish venom, weever fish sting, fish sting, fish attack, weever fish sting, fish venom, scuba, scuba diving, puncture wound, stings, marine stings

    WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

    Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on April 28, 2016

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