Octopus Envenomation Clinical Presentation

Updated: Apr 27, 2017
  • Author: Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Presentation

History

Any octopus can bite with its parrot-like chitinous beak.

The bite of the blue-ringed octopus is usually painless; however, the individual may experience a reaction similar to a bee sting.

If envenomation has occurred, symptoms are likely to start within 10 minutes of being bitten.

If a significant envenomation has occurred, the individual will rapidly progress from perioral and peripheral paresthesias through the following signs and symptoms.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Ataxia
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Respiratory failure, which may lead to cardiac arrest and death

Anaphylactoid or anaphylactic reactions have not been reported.

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Physical Examination

The individual is usually bitten on an extremity and sustains 1-2 small puncture wounds.

Local reaction may be minimal, but it can progress to include pain, edema, and erythema of the entire extremity.

The patient becomes flaccid once paralyzed.

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Causes

Envenomations usually occur when an individual picks up a blue-ringed octopus or accidentally steps on one.

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Complications

If acute paralysis and respiratory arrest is not immediately recognized and appropriately treated, anoxic brain injury or death will result.

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