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Cone snail sting

A cone snail sting is caused by the dart-like tooth on the cone snail which contains a rapid-acting venom that is used to capture its prey. Most of the stings occur on the hands and fingers due to handling.

What are the signs?

Mild cone snail stings are like a bee or wasp sting where burning and stinging symptoms are present. They can also be intense and have numbness and tingling in the wounded area.

Some sting symptoms can lead to cyanosis which causes the site to be color blue due to the decrease in blood flow and cause numbness and/or tingling to develop in an entire limb.

Cone snail sting

Using an elastic bandage to wrap the limb at the fingers or toes and wrap to the body.

Severe cone snail stings can have full numbness of the limb that progress to the area around the mouth and then the whole body.

Other signs that might manifest include fainting, itchiness, coordination, heart failure, difficulty in speech, difficulty in breathing, and vision impairment.

The symptoms can develop within a few minutes or take several days after the venom is injected.

Management of a cone snail sting

For treating cone snail stings, if you’re SCUBA diving with someone and they’ve been stung by a cone snail, have them immediately surfaced accompanied by another diver.

Keep in mind that there is no available antivenom for the stings.

Utilized the pressure immobilization method in treating someone who’s been stung by a cone snail, this is done by:

  • Using an elastic bandage to wrap the limb at the fingers or toes and wrap to the body. The wrap must be secure, but the fingers or toes should stay pinkish so that the circulation is not disrupted.
  • A splint or stick should be used to immobilize the extremity to prevent it from flexing at the joints.

To prevent a cone snail sting from occurring, several steps in properly handling a cone shell or precautions can be done.

  • Do not pick up cone shells, if you are picking up cone shells, however, you should wear proper gloves and should cautiously hold the large tip of the shell.
  • If any section of the snail starts to move out of the shell, drop the cone shell instantly.
  • If there is a need to carry the shell, hold it instead by the large point of the shell.
  • Do not carry the shell inside a wetsuit or the pockets on your clothes.

If you’ve been stung by a cone snail, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Intensive care hospitalization which includes the use of a respirator may be required.

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