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Stingray Injury (cont.)

Stingray Injury Symptoms

The stinger, or spine near the base of the tail, is hard and sharp with backward pointing barbs (retroserrations) that can cause a jagged cut. It can be difficult to remove from a wound because of the back-facing barbs. There can be 1-4 spines at the base of the ray’s tail depending on the species.

A skinlike covering, the sheath, over the stinger encloses the venom glands. The spine lies in a groove along the tail. Injury from a stingray can damage a person's muscles or tendons in addition to the cut or puncture wound. Part of the sheath and spine can be left in the wound. The venom is composed of many different substances that cause tissue to break down and die as well as cause severe pain.

The toxins contained in the sheath can cause the following symptoms:

  • Immediate and severe pain radiating up the limb and lasting up to 48 hours
  • Swelling in the wounded area
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Color change in the area of injury—first dusky blue, then red
  • Sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Faintness, weakness, dizziness
  • Salivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizure
  • Muscle cramps and pain, paralysis
  • Heart rhythm irregularities
  • Death, though rare, has been reported from a puncture of the heart or abdomen and from loss of blood.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/9/2015
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Stingray Envenomation »

Stingrays (ie, elasmobranchs) are bottom-dwelling cartilaginous fish that have a flattened body, one or more stout spines on the tail, gill slits on the lower surface of the head, teeth modified into 2 large crushing plates, and no dorsal fin.

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