On a recent weekend beach outing, an expat woman was wading in the shallow waters at one of the beach clubs on the Gulf Road. She stepped on a “rock” and shortly afterward experienced excruciating pain in her right leg, which began to swell, and then felt chills and shortness of breath. It turned out, she had stepped on a Stonefish.
A little known fact is that the Stonefish is a venomous fish found in the Arabian Gulf. It lives on the muddy bottoms of marine shallow waters. It has venomous spines on its stone-like body and can almost look invisible against coral and rocks, making it very difficult to spot.
The Stonefish poison may produce the following symptoms: intense throbbing pain, redness, bruising, swelling, numbness and severe reactions may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, headache, diarrhea, slow heart rate, shortness of breath, seizures, decreased blood pressure, fainting, and paralysis. If left untreated, the poison can be fatal.
Luckily, there is an antidote injection, which the woman received within an hour of the incident, and had the immediate effect of alleviating the symptoms and effects of the poison. The Amiri Hospital has this injection available, and was able to treat the woman immediately.
Your chances of stepping on a Stonefish are very small. In fact, we found very little news coverage on it, which leads one to believe it happens very rarely. However, it is best to take precautions, like wearing swim shoes when wading into the shallow waters of the coast, and being careful to stay away from shallow, rocky areas, where Stonefish will lurk.
(References made to medical symptoms of the poison found at EMedicine Health.com).