Can Manta Rays hurt you

Stingray stings


Robert A. Barish

, MD, MBA, University of Illinois at Chicago;

Thomas Arnold

, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport

Last full review / revision May 2020 | Content last changed May 2020
Click here to go to the issue for medical professionals

Stingrays contain a poison in the sting, which is on the back of their tail. Injuries usually occur when someone steps on a stingray (which is often buried in the sand) while wading in the shallow sea spray. The animal uses its tail fin to push the stinger into the victim's foot or leg, releasing poison in the process. Parts of the spiked sheath can remain in the wound and increase the risk of infection.

A stinging sting wound wound is usually jagged and bleeding profusely. The pain starts immediately and is severe, but gradually subsides within 6 to 48 hours. Many people with these wounds experience fainting, weakness, nausea, and anxiety. Vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, severe convulsions, difficulty breathing and death are less common.


  • First rinse with salt water

  • Care of the wound by a doctor and removal of the sting remnants

Injuries to the arms or legs caused by a stingray should be gently rinsed with salt water as first aid so that the remnants of the tail spine may be washed out in this way. The stinger should only be removed if it is on the surface of the skin and has not entered the neck, chest, or abdomen. Heavy bleeding should be reduced by applying direct pressure.

In the emergency room, doctors examine the wound and remove any fragments of the sting. A tetanus vaccination may be required. The injured arm or leg should be kept high for several days. Some injured people are given antibiotics and may need surgery to close the wound.

NOTE: This is the output for patients. DOCTORS: Click here to go to the edition for medical professionals
Click here to go to the issue for medical professionals
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