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Information about specific bites - poisonous fish, mosquitoes and snakes

Poisonous fish belong to about twenty marine and fresh water families. The role usually given to the venomous device is that of a defence organ against aggressors and predators. Mosquitoes and flies of the dipterous order are meat eaters, not venomous as such, but giving symptoms close to those observed during poisonings. They use their feeding mechanism as a venom device. Ignorance, fear, or both, we’ve all felt the ill effects of the snake's symbolism. Of the 27,000 ophidians, 550 species are venomous snakes. In total, 20% of snakes are dangerous to man.

jellyfish stingPOISONOUS FISH

There are a wide variety of poisonous fish, many have spines loaded with venom and others, such as the jellyfish, have tentacles that can inflict serious wounds. 

The weever fish, for example, has a row of spines along its back. It is light in colour and marked with brown spots and grows up to 20 cms in length. Buried under the sand, it waits for its prey with only the venomous stings of the spine and the top of the head visible. They can be found mainly in the coastal waters of any temperate sea. The weever fishsting is very painful, which is understandable when you realise that weever venom is as powerful as the toxin in rattlesnake venom. It is a venom that destroys red blood cells and paralyzes nerves. The instant and very intense burning pain can bring unconsciousness and hence the potential for the victim to drown. It lasts from 30 minutes to an hour although the symptoms of numbness to the limb can persevere for many hours more.

Jellyfish, such as the Portuguese Man O'War, consist of numerous small polyps under a gas-filled float. They drift along with the tide trailing their long tentacles in the water. The tentacles are armed with stinging cells powerful enough to cause severe injury to people. 

Aspivenin® is very effective in treating poisonous fish stings. It allows for the quick relief of the first painful effects of the venom which soon flows into the limbs of the stung person. All this can be done whilst proper medical attention is sought. Many lifeguards have Aspivenin® as part of their first aid kits when they patrol beaches.


The mosquito is an arthropod of the dipterous order (mosquitoes and flies). Mosquitoes are among the most feared insects in the world because of their role as the carrier of many diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. It is a fact that one in ten people in the world will die as the result of a mosquito bite.

The mosquito or Culicidae is part of the insect group having sucking (buccal) parts, of which some components are long and form a proboscis. For feeding, penetration occurs first into the feeding tissues, followed by an injection of saliva and finally the aspiration or sucking of the blood. The annoying itch of a mosquito bite is not strictly a venom but a substance in the saliva used to maintain the fluidity of the blood, a sort of lubricator.

It's always the female which bites in order to promote the development of her eggs. The male is essentially floricultural or, practically, does not eat. Mosquitoes are attracted by dark colours, humid heat, sweat and warm skin. 

Aspivenin®, even when used some hours after the bite (one is rarely aware of being bitten), greatly relieves the itching. Try to avoid scratching the bite as this can tend to spread the venom into the surrounding tissue. If going to areas where malaria is known to be prevalent, always seek your doctor's advice well in advance and take the usual course of anti-malarial medication.  



Poisonous snakes are widespread throughout the world. Viperidae (vipers) abound from Europe all the way to South East Asia, and are often sighted in Africa. Crotalidae (rattlesnakes) live in North and South America as well as Asia. We encounter Elapidae in Africa (cobras, mambas) and in Asia (cobras, bungares), in Australia (cobras) and in America (coral snakes). The most dangerous snake in the world is the taipan; it can kill in seconds and it lives in Australia. In Europe the viper is the main threat. They are not aggressive but attack when they feel danger. 

Most bites occur during the summer at the warmest time of the day (between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.). In the event of a bite, the Aspivenin® pump, should be used immediately as it can enable extraction of up to 40% of venom, and it remains the best First Aid against any venom. The victim should be kept as still as possible with the injured limb immobilized. No food or drink should be given to them. 

Cutting the wound is not advised as this can cause extensive tissue damage; oral sucking of the wound is also dangerous to the person doing the sucking and, in any case, the continuous vacuum that is generated by the Aspivenin® pump is 10 times stronger than oral sucking. After the extraction of as much venom as possible, the pump should be kept in place as the continuous vacuum will help to minimize the amount of venom that gets into the victim's blood system. This should be done whilst professional medical care is sought as quickly as possible. This is imperative. 

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