As the saying goes, there is plenty of fish in the sea. There is many deadly fish such as great white sharks, tiger fish, and moray eels. However, one creature swims tentacles above the rest.
While other fish are capable of causing physical pain with their bites, jellyfish are capable of delivering fatal venom through their tentacles. There are over 200 species of jellyfish throughout the world, with each of their stings having varying effects.
The box jellyfish sting though is the most dangerous one, and because of it, has made it the most venomous marine mammal in the whole world.
Let’s learn more about this jellyfish and the effects of its deadly sting.
Identifying the Box Jellyfish
The problem with jellyfish is that they look very unassuming. They flutter about gracefully underwater. The fact that they look so soft and squishy also lends to their unassuming nature. This leads many people to believe that they aren’t the least bit dangerous. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
While all stings from jellyfish are dangerous, the box jellyfish sting is the one to be feared the most. Thus, it is very important to know what this jellyfish looks like.
As the name suggests, the body of this jellyfish is shaped like a box. Their body is light blue in colour and translucent. Its body is riddled with up to 15 venom-filled tentacles.
One unique feature this jellyfish has is that it is capable of swimming quite quickly. Usually, other species drift around than swim. This means that if you are able to spot it, it is best you stay out of its way as it can close the distance really fast.
They are usually found in tropical waters and prefer to stay in shallow waters near beaches and estuaries. The most lethal variety resides in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.
The Effects of a Box Jellyfish Sting
A Stinging Pain
When a person comes into contact with tentacles, the first thing they will feel is a stinging pain. Some people liken it to that of a bee. It is sharp and quick, but not overly painful, at least initially. This pain can feel like a sting or a burning sensation.
Not long after though, and with enough venom, the pain intensifies and begins to flood the area that has been stung.
One thing to note though is that the effects of the sting vary. This is wholly dependent on how much skin was affected by its venom. If it has reached just 10 percent of human skin, it could prove fatal.
A variety of skin symptoms begin to show in the location that has been stung. Apart from the burning and stinging pain, itching and swelling may occur.
Afterwards, the patch of skin will begin to change colour. It may turn red or purple. At the same time, a mark shaped like a tentacle will be left on the skin.
The only silver lining to this is that people will know just how much venom they have been afflicted with. The downside is that it really doesn’t take much for it to be fatal.
If first aid is administered immediately, the sting brands will be left as permanent scars on the body.
Two hours after this jellyfish sting without proper medical care, people can develop something called Irukandji Syndrome. This is a condition that comes with more severe symptoms.
Body, Mind, and Heart Problems
For starters, people will feel significant pain in their muscles, joints, and all over the body. It is accompanied by waves of nausea and vomiting, possibly amplified by intense pain.
People will also have headaches and cramps in various parts of the body. A common one is around the abdominal area.
Finally, people will have their blood pressure drop and cardiac arrhythmias. These are serious and if not treated immediately, can ultimately result in death. It may trigger aneurysms and heart attacks to occur.
Death and Nerve Damage
Apart from this, the combination of various cardiovascular effects and the buildup of water in the lungs (or pulmonary edema) also contribute to the deaths of people.
Even if you are lucky enough to receive treatment in time, the jellyfish sting will still leave behind some nasty effects. These include permanent scarring where the tentacles made contact with your skin. There is also the possibility of nerve damage which can lead to long-term pain.
Again, it must be stated that Irukandji syndrome is very fatal. People must act quickly because in just half an hour or less, the symptoms start to develop and can ramp up pretty quickly.
Treatment for a Box Jellyfish Sting
Get Out of the Water
If stung by a box jellyfish, people need to act quickly. The first thing you need to do is get the person out of the water. At the same time, warn other people in the water and get them to come out as well.
Remove the Tentacles
Next, you’ll want to remove the tentacles from your skin. This is easier said than done as the tentacles will stick to your skin. You will need to use something like tweezers to pull them off.
Apart from this, a credit card can also be used to scrape the tentacles off. Apply a small amount of pressure to remove the tentacles. More pressure may release more toxins to the body.
Cleanse the Area with Vinegar or Salt Water
Many people believe in the urban myth that urine should be applied to the stung area. This only makes things worse. In reality, the area must be rinsed off with vinegar. Apply it to the area for half a minute.
Many stations near where box jellyfish reside will usually have a vinegar solution for stings. However, if they do not, use salt water to cleanse the area. Things like fresh water, alcohol, and ice can only make things worse. It may elicit more toxins to come out and flood the body.
Seek Medical Attention
The final step is to seek medical attention. Once attention is given, the patient may be given antivenom, medication for pain, and other medicines for symptoms that may arise.
Box jellyfish stings are nothing to scoff at. The stinging truth is that they are incredibly dangerous and can cause death in a matter of minutes. It is important to be vigilant whenever swimming in box jellyfish waters.
Hopefully, awareness of how serious these stings are, as well as what they look like and what to do if stung will prepare you for any unfortunate jellyfish occurrences.
With the right skills though, you can be of more help to people stung by box jellyfish. With how fast the venom acts, the right first aid practices can tip the scales towards potentially saving a life.
Take CPR First Aid’s Liverpool courses to learn important life-saving skills today.