Most scorpionfishes aren't quite as cryptic as the stonefish. Pictured below is one of the more common scorpionfishes in the CNMI, the Spinycrown Scorpionfish.
Venemous fish are rarely aggressive and usually contact is made by accidentally stepping on or handling the fish. Venom is generally heat-labile and may be decomposed by hot water. Antivenim is available for stonefish and scorpionfish stings. The anti venom is specific for the stonefish but may have some beneficial effects against the scorpionfish.
Local symptoms following a sting include severe pain which may persist for many days. Generalized symptoms are often present and may include respiratory failure and cardiovascular collapse.
First Aid and Treatment:
1. Get victim out of the water; watch for fainting.
2. Lay patient down and reassure.
3. Observe patient carefully for the possible development of life threatening complications. The venom is an unstable protein which acts as a myotoxin on skeletal, involuntary, and cardiac muscle. This may result in muscular paralysis, respiratory depression, peripheral vasodilation, shock, cardiac dysrhytmias, or cardiac arrest.
4. Wash the wound with cold salt water. Suction is not effective to remove toxin.
5. Soak wound in hot water for 30 to 90 minutes. Heat may break down the venom. The water should be as hot as the victim can tolerate. Adding magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) to the water offers no benefit.
6. If anti venom is used, the directions on the package should be followed and the physician must be ready to treat for anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction).