Have you ever heard of a Weever fish? I’m no fisherman! I had heard about them before but not paid an awful lot of attention, until this week!
A regular patient contacted me, informing me of a foot injury she had sustained whilst away in the channel islands. She was walking in the shallow water when she trod on something sharp. Her foot became blotchy, red and swollen but extremely painful. She was unable to weightbare for hours and 4 days later its still tender!
The likelihood is this was caused by a weever fish. So we both thought this would be a timely reminder for those frequenting UK beaches over the summer.
What is a weever fish?
The weever fish is found along UK shores and even as far away as the Med! They prey on smaller fish and bury themselves in the sand around shallow water.
They can grow as big as 30cm and tend to be brown in colour with a black fin and tail. The fin contains venomous spines that can sting if they come into contact with human skin.
When Stung, you may think you have cut yourself, or grazed yourself on a rock. The pain quickly increases and will feel like a bee or wasp sting very quickly. This pain continues to increase and this can feel like an intense burning and this can travel up the limbs. It can last for hours or even days.
You may also find the area:
- feels numb
- becomes red hot and tight
- you may feel sick and start shaking
- in some cases you may develop joint pain, headaches, tummy cramps and increased urination.
- Some patients can have an allergic reaction to the sting – these symptoms require urgent care. This can include: breathing problems, reduction in blood pressure, consciousness and heart palpitations.
In most cases the reaction is not severe and can be managed on the shoreline.
The venom from a weever fish is protein based, so the best treatment is to cook the protein to destroy it. As soon as you can, soak the affected area in hot water for 15 mins. This needs to be hot, but as safe and comfortable, without causing scalding. Replace the hot water as it cools. Once the pain has eased, you may see spines from the fin you can remove with a tweezer. You can continue to soak to reduce pain and swelling. You don’t need to add anything to the water! Unlike the theory of treatment for a jellyfish sting, there is no need to wee on it!! If symptoms continue or worsen seek medical help.
How to avoid being stung by a weever fish
- Wearing water shoes with a sole will protect and save your feet from a weever fish sting.
- Avoid rolling around in the shallows without a thick wetsuit – this is particularly pertinent to children.
- Be prepared! Although the risk is slim, do you know where you could get hot water quickly if this were to happen.
Stay safe at the beach. Enjoy the sun but be careful this summer!