Box jellyfish sting: signs and symptoms
With the latest news in the world of Philippine entertainment, the star of the hit TV program about a mermaid, “Dyesebel” Anne Curtis and her encounter with a box jellyfish that left her hospitalized Wednesday night while taping an episode of the fantasy classic in Batangas, I thought I’d take a look at the box jellyfish and the signs and symptoms of getting stung by ” the most venomous creature in the ocean”.
Their venom is considered to be among the most deadly in the world, containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. It is so overpoweringly painful, human victims have been known to go into shock and drown or die of heart failure before even reaching shore. Survivors can experience considerable pain for weeks and often have significant scarring where the tentacles made contact.
Box jellies, also called sea wasps and marine stingers, live primarily in coastal waters off Northern Australia and throughout the Indo-Pacific. They are pale blue and transparent in color and get their name from the cube-like shape of their bell. Up to 15 tentacles grow from each corner of the bell and can reach 10 feet (3 meters) in length. Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging cells, which are triggered not by touch but by the presence of a chemical on the outer layer of its prey.
The Mayo Clinic says “Jellyfish stings can vary greatly in severity. Most often they result in immediate pain and red, irritated marks on the skin. Some jellyfish stings may cause more whole-body (systemic) illness, and in rare cases, jellyfish stings are life-threatening.”
How bad the sting of a box jellyfish is depends on a number of factors–species and size of the jellyfish, the age and size of the person, the duration of exposure, and the area of skin affected.
Common, non-life-threatening symptoms include immediate burning pain, red, brown or purplish tracks on the skin, itching, tingling and numbness and throbbing pain that may radiate up a leg or arm to the torso. These symptoms will typically resolve themselves in a couple of weeks.
However, as NatGeo described above, serious, even life-threatening symptoms like cardiac arrest is known to occur.
Anne Curtis tweeted from her hospital bed, “This summer be careful when swimming in the ocean, keep an eye out”. An excellent warning.
WebMD provides jellyfish treatment and first-aid at this page.
Remember that not too long ago, swimmer Diane Nyad got stung by a swarm of box jellyfish while swimming from Cuba to Florida.