JellyFish Facts

Irukandji Jellyfish Sting

Irukandji Jellyfish Sting picture

Irukandji Jellyfish Sting

Among the two thousand known species of jellyfish, less than a hundred are considered dangerous to humans. Jellyfish have stinger cells in their tentacles which contain venom. The toxicity of the venom will depend on the species of jellyfish, and the effects of the sting will vary from mild discomfort to death within a short time.

Carukia barnesi is a species of jellyfish which is popularly called the Irukandji, and is classified under the Cobozoans category. It is found mainly in the waters bordering, the northern part of Australia. Irukandji or malo kingi populates the waters near Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. The bell diameter of the adult Irukandji measures only 1.2 cms and its height is around 3cms. This tiny jellyfish is extremely venomous, and its sting is known to cause extreme pain and other distressing symptoms, which are collectively known as the Irukandji syndrome.

Dr. Jack Barnes was the first to connect these symptoms with the sting of this jellyfish, among the Irukandji people, and hence this jellyfish was so named. When the Iruknadji jellyfish stings, it injects only a very small amount of venom and many people hardly realise that they have been stung. The immediate sensation of the sting is something similar to the bite of a mosquito. But after five to thirty minutes the intensity of the symptoms set in.

As the effect of the Irukandji jellyfish sting sets in, the person starts feeling pains in various parts of the body. The person gets pains in different muscles, especially the back, abdomen and chest areas, and is coupled with a headache. The blood pressure is known to rise rapidly, and is accompanied by sweating, nausea and vomiting. The heart rate also increases dramatically, and fluid starts to accumulate in the lungs. The mental framework of the patient is known to get disturbed, and many people who are stung, have a felling that they are going to die soon. A feeling of doom sets in and this is one of the major characteristic of Irukandji Syndrome.

The severity of these symptoms are known to last from 4 hours to little over a day, but to be completely rid of all the symptoms might take up to 14 days. It is very rare that the sting of the Irukandji jellyfish proves fatal. Usually it causes death in people who already are having a medical condition and the symptoms aggravate that condition leading to a fatality. It also proves fatal if the symptoms are left untreated.

First aid for an Irukandji sting is the same which is given for any jellyfish sting, like pouring vinegar over the affected area to neutralise the stinger cells. Mostly the person will require hospitalisation and the symptoms have to be carefully observed and treated medically. Many people have shown marked improvement after a treatment with Magnesium sulfate. Although this is not a proven cure for Irukandji syndrome, the treatment is still used and has an experimental status, as it has helped many patients.

Learn more about the Irukandji jellyfish, Jellyfish Sting treatment and Jellyfish Sting Safety

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety

Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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