Boy survives octopus bite
By Rosemary Desmond
October 09, 2006
Vía The Australian News
A Toddler who was bitten by a deadly blue ringed octopus after he picked it up and played with it has lived to tell the tale.
Anthony Cerasa spent Saturday night on life support in Mater Hospital after being bitten by the octopus while playing with his brother in the shallows at Suttons Beach near Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.
He was rushed to nearby Redcliffe Hospital where he was stabilised before being transferred to Brisbane and placed on life support to help him breathe.
A spokeswoman for the Mater Hospital said Anthony was discharged last night and allowed to go home.
On Saturday, he had told his mother Jane Moss his legs felt "floppy" and he was unable to walk just after he and his twin brother were seen putting an octopus back into the water after playing with it.
Today, senior curator of molluscs at Museum Victoria Dr Mark Norman said Anthony was lucky to be alive, and prompt medical attention and dilution of the venom in sea water had probably saved him.
He said there had been four confirmed deaths from blue ringed octopus worldwide, two in Australia, one in Singapore and one in Okinawa, Japan.
In all cases, the victims had pulled the octopus from the water and were handling them.
Dr Norman, who is a recognised authority on octopuses, said there were seven species Australia-wide, with the east coast "blue-lined" blue ring octopus and a larger Darwin species responsible for the Australian deaths.
The brownish-coloured creature, about the width of an adult hand with its tentacles outstretched, only shows its rings when it is about to bite.
"There have been lots of people bitten and the toxin acts in a weird way because it lets your heart keep beating and you are fully conscious, it's just you can't move any other muscles," Dr Norman said.
"You are completely immobilised and conscious and people actually die from suffocating to death."
"He (Anthony) is lucky to be alive."
If medical action was given swiftly enough and the patient put onto a respirator, the patient could recover fully within 24 hours without side effects, Dr Norman said.
The blue ringed octopus had evolved its deadly poison to paralyse large crabs, its favourite food.
Dr Norman has surveyed the Australian coast for octopuses over the last ten years.
He is working on a research project on the toxicity of the species in collaboration with the University of Queensland.
The best way to deal with blue ringed octopuses was to leave them alone, he said.
"Don't handle any small octopus, whether you can see rings or not."