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Danger to Humans Stingrays are aptly named for the venomous serrated spine located on the tail, with the round stingray being no different. Although stingrays do not attack people, the tail spines can cause painful wounds if stepped upon or handled without caution. The round stingray has a spine that is located halfway down the length of the tail, allowing for a powerful stinging reflex. Due to the increased human population along the coast of California, the numbers of stingray-related injuries is on the rise as reported from Orange County, California. People can shuffle their feet while walking in shallow water at the beach and avoid handling live stingrays to reduce chances of injury from stingrays. Although wounds are not life threatening, they can be very painful. Conservation Status The round stingray is not listed as endangered or vulnerable with the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The IUCN is a global union of states, governmental agencies, and non-governmental organizations in a partnership that assesses the conservation status of species.
Stingray venom is a protein (molecular weight greater than 100, 000) which is water soluble. Low concentrations cause EKG changes of increased PR intervals associated with bradycardia. First degree AV block may occur with mild hypotension. Larger doses produce vasoconstriction, second and third degree AV block and signs of cardiac ischemia. Most cardiac changes are reversible within 24 hours. Some degree of respiratory depression is also noted and convulsions may also occur.
Effects of Venom: A. Localized effects: The pain is immediate and severe, increasing over 1-2 hours and easing after 6-10 hours. Secondary infection may occur. Pain is constant, pulsating or lancinating. Bleeding may be profuse. The area is quite swollen and pale with a bluish rim, centimeters in width, spreading around the wound after an hour. Local necrosis, ulceration and secondary infection are common. Osteomyelitis can occur and amputation has been known to be necessary.
Generalized Effects: The venom is associated with anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, frequent urination and salivation. There may be extension of pain to the area of lymphatic drainage. Muscular cramps, tremors, paralysis of the affected limb, fainting, palpitations, hypotension, heart rate irregularities, difficulty breathing, cough, pain on inspiration; fever at night with copious sweating, nervousness, confusion or delirium are also known to occur. Symptoms may persist for weeks to months after an injury including a dull ache and swelling which is better on elevation. Fatalities occur either immediately or within two weeks if the spine perforates important body cavities.
Prevention: Waders are cautioned to shuffle their feet when walking in the water. Divers should swim above the sea bed and wear protective clothing which can reduce the severity of the sting.