Blue-ringed octopus

The blue-ringed octopus venom can kill 26 adults

Blue-ringed octopus first aid treatment is pressure on the wound and artificial respiration once the paralysis has disabled the victim’s respiratory muscles, which often occurs within minutes of being bitten.

Tetrodotoxin causes severe and often total body paralysis; the victim remains conscious and alert in a manner similar to curare or pancuronium bromide. This effect, however, is temporary and will fade over a period of hours as the tetrodotoxin is metabolized and excreted by the body. It is thus essential that rescue breathing be continued without pause until the paralysis subsides and the victim regains the ability to breathe on their own. This is a daunting physical prospect for a single individual, but use of a bag valve mask respirator reduces fatigue to sustainable levels until help can arrive.

Definitive hospital treatment involves placing the patient on a medical ventilator until the toxin is removed by the body. The symptoms vary in severity, with children being the most at risk because of their small body size. Because the venom primarily kills through paralysis, victims are frequently saved if artificial respiration is started and maintained before marked cyanosis and hypotension develop. Victims who survive the first 24 hours usually recover completely.

Efforts should be continued even if the victim appears not to be responding. Tetrodotoxin envenomation can result in victims being fully aware of their surroundings but unable to breathe. Because of the paralysis that occurs, they have no way of signaling for help or any way of indicating distress. Respiratory support, together with reassurance, until medical assistance arrives ensures the victims will generally recover well.

The blue-ringed octopus, despite its small size, carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans within minutes. Their bites are tiny and often painless, with many victims not realizing they have been envenomated until respiratory depression and paralysis start to set in.

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