Management of Bites and Stings

Tasmania has many animal and insect species that bite or sting. When you encounter a bite or sting patient, your role as a VAO is to request backup immediately and to keep the patient calm, reassured and immobile until backup arrives. Most bites and stings require washing of the bite area (and removal of the sting in the case of honey bees), but the treatment for snake and blue ringed octopus bite is much more serious, as both can be life threatening.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Snake Bite

The signs and symptoms (serious indicators) of snake bite are:

  • evidence of puncture or scratch at bite area
  • severe pain and bleeding at bite area
  • internal bleeding (lungs, kidneys)
  • headache and slurred speech
  • paralysis, coma and death.

 

Signs and Symptoms of Blue Ringed Octopus Bite

The signs and symptoms (serious indicators) of blue ringed octopus bite are:

  • dry mouth (difficulty in swallowing and talking)
  • generalised weakness and reduced co-ordination
  • paralysis
  • respiratory failure and arrest
  • fixed dilated pupils.

 

Basic Care (following DRABC)

The basic care you must provide a bite or sting patient will depend on the type of bite of sting. You will therefore need to be familiar with four main treatments:

  1. Fish spine sting – apply hot water to bite area (but not hot enough to burn patient)
  2. Jelly fish sting – wash off any adhering tentacles with fresh water
  3. Red back spider bite – apply ice pack to bite area (but do not apply pressure)
  4. Snake bite, blue ringed octopus bite and all other bites – apply two pressure bandages, immobilise (splint) bite area and do not elevate if bite is to limb.

It is important to be familiar with the treatment for snake bite, blue ringed octopus bite and all other bites, which involves apply two pressure bandages as follows:

  • apply first pressure bandage to cover bite area
  • apply second pressure bandage to cover entire limb (from fingers or toes up)
  • immobilise and/or splint the bite affected area
  • do not elevate the limb.


Warning!

Paramedic or medical backup is essential.

IDevice Icon Management of Bites and Stings Gallery
Show snake bite Image
snake bite
Show snake bite Image
snake bite
Show snake bite Image
snake bite
Show snake bite Image
snake bite
Show progressive result of spider bite – 1 Image
progressive result of spider bite – 1
Show progressive result of spider bite – 2 Image
progressive result of spider bite – 2
Show progressive result of spider bite – 3 Image
progressive result of spider bite – 3
Show progressive result of spider bite – 4 Image
progressive result of spider bite – 4
Show blue ringed octopus Image
blue ringed octopus


Want to Learn More?

If you are interested in learning more about bites and stings, take some time out to browse the following online medical reference sites:

Note: these are external websites. If you click on the above links, you will leave the Allergies, Bites and Stings eLearn course for Volunteer Ambulance Officers (VAOs) site.

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