Most fish poisoning occurs with fish that normally are considered safe to eat, but which become poisonous at different times of the year from eating poisonous algae and plankton (red tide) that appear in certain locations. Examples of fish that are always poisonous are shown in figure 4-65.
Figure 4-65.Poisonous fish.
The symptoms of shellfish and fish poisoning are tingling and numbness of the face and mouth, muscular weakness, nausea and vomiting, increased salivation, difficulty in swallowing, and respiratory failure.
Primary treatment is directed toward evacuating the stomach contents; if the victim has not vomited, cause him or her to do so. Use syrup of Ipecac, gastric lavage, or manual stimulation; then administer a cathartic. If respiratory failure develops, give artificial ventilation and treat for shock.
In the Navy, many industrial processes are carried out. The problem of poisoning by inhalation is widespread. The irritants and corrosives mentioned in tables 4-5 and 4-6 are more often a source of poisoning by means of inhalation rather 4-66 than by ingestion. The handling of large quantities of petroleum products (fuel oil and gasoline, in particular) constitutes a special hazard, since all of these products give off hazardous vapors.
Other poisonous gases are by-products of certain operations or processes: exhaust gases from internal combustion engines; fumes or vapors from materials used in casting, molding, welding, or plating; gases associated with bacterial decomposition in closed spaces; and gases that accumulate in voids, double bottoms, empty fuel tanks, and similar places. Carbon monoxide is the most common agent of gas poisoning. It is present in exhaust gases of internal combustion engines as well as in sewer gas, lanterns, charcoal grills, and in manufactured gas used for heating and cooking. It gives no warning of its presence since it is completely odorless and tasteless. The victim may lose consciousness and suffer respiratory distress with no warning other than slight dizziness, weakness, and headache. The lips and skin of a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning are characteristically cherry red. Death may occur within a few minutes. Some sources of inhalation chemical poisoning are listed in table 4-7.
Most inhalation poisoning causes shortness of breath and coughing. The victims skin will turn blue. If the respiratory problems are not corrected, cardiac arrest may follow.
The first stage of treatment for an inhalation poisoning is to remove the victim from the toxic atmosphere immediately. WARNING: Never try to remove a victim from the toxic environment if you do not have the proper protective mask or breathing apparatus or if you are not trained in its use. Too often, well intentioned rescuers become victims. When in doubt, call for trained personnel. If help is not immediately available, and if you know you can reach and rescue the victim, take a deep breath, hold it, enter the area, and pull the victim out. Next:
1. Start basic life support as outlined in the first section of the chapter.
2. Remove or decontaminate the clothing if chemical warfare agents or volatile fuels were the cause.
3. Keep the victim quiet, treat for shock, and administer oxygen.
4. Transport the victim to a medical treatment facility for further treatment.