First aid for bites and stings: Cone snail

by | Arthritis, First Aid and Self-Care

cone snail

Living in shallow reef waters, these conical shells contain a snail which kills its prey with venom. The venom of the cone snail is injected by small teeth which look like harpoons. Cone shell stings can be quickly fatal if large amounts of venom are injected.

  • Call 000 for an ambulance.
  • Pressure immobilisation, using a broad pressure bandage and splint, is recommended.
  • Stay with the person, reassure them and keep them still.
  • Prolonged artificial respiration, even mechanical ventilation, may be required.
  • At this stage, there is no antivenom available for cone shell stings.
  • A tetanus injection may also be needed in case the wound is contaminated.

Signs and symptoms of cone shell sting

Pain, swelling and numbness at sting site. The venom causes prolonged weakness of muscles, including the muscles of respiration (breathing), and disturbance of vision, speech and hearing.

Difficulty breathing can lead to respiratory failure and ultimately death if person is not resuscitated. If untreated, high levels of venom could cause death in a short time.

For more information on all bites and stings, please see our article here.

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