Diseases Associated with Bites & Stings
Illness can happen from various bites and stings, including:
- Fire ant bites,
- Jellyfish stings,
- Scorpion stings,
- Snake bites and rabies.
Insect bites and Stings
There are many biting and stinging insects in Asia. Some can cause painful or itchy local bites, others can carry disease.
The risk of bites and stings can be reduce by wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts when out at night, by washing hands after eating to prevent attracting insects, by using insect repellent containing DEET and reapplying it after swimming or sweating, by wearing shoes or sandals instead of going bare foot, by shaking out your clothes and shoes before putting them on, especially if they have been on the ground, by avoiding the use of perfume and cologne and by avoiding wading in water that you do not know is safe, such in some rivers and streams.
For itchy bites a topical anti-itch cream is helpful. If stung by a bee or a wasp, avoid squeezing the venom sack that is still in the skin. Use tweezers to scrape the sack out. For painful bites apply ice to the bite to reduce pain. If swelling of the face, eyes, mouth, throat or tongue occurs or if you have cough or shortness of breath, get to a doctor right away to be treated.
Fish and Sea Creatures
Sharks are rare in Thailand. Stone fish and scorpion fish are not and can cause severe wounds and even death. Jellyfish are common, and can cause mild to severe stings. Sea urchins are very painful if stepped on. Cone shells are dangerous due to venom in the shell. Sea snakes are common in Asia and are poisonous. Stingrays, even small ones, can be dangerous. Some starfish and spiny fish can cause injuries.
Avoid provoking or handling sea creatures. Wear reef shoes or protective covering on your feet. Avoid swimming after sunset when you cannot see the creatures in the water.
If stung by a jellyfish, apply vinegar in large amounts to the wound. If there are tentacles sticking to the skin, do not rub them. You can also apply ice to the wound to relieve the pain. Starfish, spiny fish and stingray injuries can be treated with hot (non-scalding) water applied to the skin. Remove any particles, and then wash the skin with soap and water. Cone shells can cause death. If stung, it may not hurt, but if you have symptoms of difficulty breathing after handling a cone shell, you need to get to a hospital quickly.
Snakes, scorpions and lizards
Most snakes, scorpions and lizards will try to get away when confronted. Try to give them a way to escape.
Prevent snake bites by not stepping over rocks or logs, but stepping on them first. Do not walk through tall grass with unprotected feet. When putting on shoes after taking them off outside, shake them out first to make sure there is nothing inside them.
If bitten by a lizard, clean the wound with soap and water carefully, since some lizards have bacteria that can cause a wound infection. If stung by a scorpion, gently clean the wound, then elevate it and seek medical help. Apply ice to the bite wound. If bitten by a snake and the snake is not killed, do not try to catch it yourself since you may be bitten again. If the snake is killed, bring the snake with you to the hospital for identification. If bitten by a snake, apply pressure to the wound. Do not try to suck out the poison. Do not cut open the wound to remove the venom. Do not put a tight tourniquet above the wound. If bitten by a snake, sit or lie still. Have someone bring you to the nearest hospital emergency room.
For further help or advice, please call:
430 Pitsanuloke Road, Dusit, Bangkok 10300 Thailand
Callcenter: +66 (0) 2-282-1100
Fax: +66 (0) 2-280-0441