A woman in Australia was bitten several times recently by a blue-ringed octopus – one of the most venomous animals in the world – and lived to tell the tale.
Blue-ringed octopuses are a group consisting of four species: the greater blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata), the southern blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa), blue octopus (Hapalochlaena fasciata) and the common blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena nierstraszi). these octopuses Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and covered in tiny rings that glow iridescent blue when the animals are threatened. Blue-ringed octopuses also contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that can paralyze and kill humans even in small doses.
On March 16, a woman was bitten twice on the stomach by an unknown species of blue-ringed octopus on a beach near Sydney in New South Wales (New South Wales), Australia. She had collected a small shell while swimming and when she picked it up to look at it, the tiny cephalopod fell off and landed on her stomach, the NSW Ambulance Service writes on Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
The woman suffered some abdominal pain and was treated with cold compresses before being taken to hospital to be monitored for further symptoms, according to NSW Ambulance. It is unclear why the woman escaped relatively unharmed.
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Tetrodotoxin stops nerves from sending signals to muscles by blocking sodium ion channels. This causes rapid weakness and paralysis of the muscles, including those of the respiratory tract, which can lead to respiratory arrest and death. The effects of tetrodotoxin can occur quickly or be delayed in onset, so death can occur anywhere between 20 minutes and 24 hours after the toxin enters the body, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Opens in a new tab).
There is no known antidote for tetrodotoxin. All healthcare practitioners can do is provide supportive care or use a ventilator if patients are unable to breathe, according to the CDC.
Blue-ringed octopuses do not produce tetratoxins themselves. Instead, the toxin is produced by symbiotic bacteria that live in the salivary glands, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (Opens in a new tab). Tetrodotoxin is found throughout octopus tissues, not just in certain venom glands, making them some of the few animals that are both Poisonous and poisonous. It also means that a person could receive a lethal dose if one of these octopuses touched their skin.
Although highly toxic, blue-ringed octopuses have only caused three confirmed deaths WebMD (Opens in a new tab).
The shimmering blue rings that flash on the octopuses’ bodies warn predators of their toxicity. They can flash their rings in less than 0.4 seconds, thanks to the slim discoloration Organs called chromatophores, which are spread across the skin of animals.
While blue-ringed octopuses rarely kill people, there have been plenty of close calls.
In 2006, a 4-year-old boy was nearly killed after being bitten by an octopus he caught in a rock pool on a Queensland beach. The boy vomited several times before developing blurry vision and then losing control of most of his muscles, according to a case report published in the journal. Clinical Toxicology (Opens in a new tab). After spending 17 hours on a respirator, he eventually recovered.
And in March 2021, a woman came under fire online after she shared a video of herself holding a Balinese blue-throated octopus, even though she didn’t know it was highly toxic at the time and escaped unharmed, according to The Guardian. . inside (Opens in a new tab).
Blue-ringed octopuses aren’t the only animals with tetrodotoxin. It can be found in some newts, frogs, and puffer fish.
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