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Study foresees rise in eel attacks

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DUBLIN, Ireland, Sep 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- As more people move closer to coastal areas, attacks by marine animals are sure to increase, reconstructive surgeons in Dublin reported Wednesday.

In one case study, plastic and reconstructive surgeons from Dublin's St. James Hospital and Galway's University College Hospital recounted how a 37-year-old scuba diver in Cuban waters sustained major injuries to his arm in an unprovoked attack by a large green moray eel.

The 5-foot eel seized the man's right forearm and clenched tightly for some time, but eventually released its grip.

It took nearly an hour to apply a tourniquet and race ashore to a hospital, where doctors found irreparable and substantial tissue loss.

According to the study, bites most commonly occur when divers reach their hands into holes occupied by eels, or when divers carry fresh-cut fish underwater.

Such attacks will "undoubtedly occur more often," the doctors wrote, as approximately 80 percent of the world's human population is living in coastal areas.

The case study appears in the September issue of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, a peer-reviewed quarterly medical journal published by the Wilderness Medical Society.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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