Stings of jellyfish and wasps cause painful symptoms that last for days if first aid treatment is not provided. After a jellyfish or wasp sting, a sudden intense burning pain may be felt first. It may lead to swelling and redness of the affected area. Worst case scenario may be an occurrence of a severe allergic reaction, like anaphylaxis, which may be life-threatening. These symptoms of jellyfish and wasp stings are commonly experienced in Perth as both animals are prevalent in the area. However, these may be treated with first aid to prevent severe effects. The first aid steps for stings of jellyfish and wasp will be discussed below.
What is a Jellyfish?
Jellyfish are part of the cnidarians according to the Australian Museum, along with anemones, corals, and hydroids. The cnidarian is the collective name for the sea animals that have soft, hollow bodies, live in water, and generally have tentacles. The tentacles are used by jellyfish to protect themselves and kill prey. These contain microscopic barbed stingers that hold venom which is released when the tentacles are brushed against another animal or human. This jellyfish sting is a common incident in Perth and other parts of Australia as jellyfish are usually found on the country’s beaches.
What Types of Jellyfish are Common in Australia?
Australian Museum lists the following species of jellyfish that are commonly found in Australia:
- Bluebottle Jellyfish
- Box Jellyfish
- Lion’s Mane Jellyfish
- Upside-down Jellyfish
- White-spotted Jellyfish
The bluebottle jellyfish is the most common species found in Perth, and its sting has a record of at least 500 cases every year.
What is the Blue Bottle Jellyfish?
The Blue Bottle Jellyfish (Physalia utriculus), also known as Pacific Man-of-War, is a colony of four kinds of highly modified individuals (zooids) according to the Australian Museum. Each kind of zooid is dependent on one another.
What are the Zooids in the Blue Bottle Jellyfish?
The zooids in the Blue Bottle Jellyfish are namely:
- Pneumatophore – the float or the bluish topmost part that looks like a bottle or a pear that may exceed 15cm. It is a living, muscular bag that secretes its gas that is the same as air.
- Gonozooids – an elongated part found below the float which are the reproductive polyps.
- Gastrozooids – the digestive polyps found below the gonozooids that provide food for the whole colony by capturing and ingesting zooplankton.
- Dactylozooids – the tentacles, or the polyps concerned with finding and catching food and transporting their prey.
Each of these zooids is dependent on one another.
What to Know About the Blue Bottle Jellyfish Sting?
The Blue Bottle Jellyfish sting has caused several fatalities to people living in Perth and throughout Australia. The very young and elderly people allergic to them have shown further complications. These may be avoided by getting more information about the blue bottle jellyfish stings and knowing the first aid practices in this situation.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Blue Bottle Jellyfish Sting?
Below are some signs and symptoms that may be experienced in case of a Blue Bottle Jellyfish sting:
- A sudden intense burning pain, which may last for up to one hour.
- The appearance of a swollen and itchy red line on the skin where the tentacles have made contact.
- Occurrence of blisters which may lead to scarring.
The above-mentioned Blue Bottle Jellyfish sting effects may not be severe. However, these may lead to allergic reactions like anaphylaxis which may be life-threatening. Cases like this occur when the person who got stung has allergies and/or if first aid response is not done immediately.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of the Other Jellyfish Sting?
The main sting signs and symptoms of the other jellyfish are:
- Burning, prickling, or stinging pain in the skin.
- Whip pattern in the skin which may be reddish, brownish, or purplish tracks.
- Throbbing pain.
- Unusual behaviour due to pain
If any of the above occurs, it is advised to call 000 immediately, especially if the stung person has an allergy as it may lead to an anaphylactic shock.
What is First Aid for Jellyfish Stings?
Each jellyfish is different from the other so first aid treatment for their sting may be different depending on which type of species stung you. First aid for some of the jellyfish stings is listed below and calling 000 is advised when this incident happens.
What is First Aid for Blue Bottle Jellyfish Sting?
The following first aid steps may be done after a blue bottle jellyfish sting to avoid severe reactions:
- Have a hot shower or dip the affected part of the skin in hot water for at least 20 minutes. If none of these may be done, do a cold compress instead.
- After 20 minutes, have a few seconds of a break from the hot or cold treatment.
- Re-immerse the affected skin in the treatment.
- Repeat the above steps until the pain stops.
If pain persists and the wound worsens, see a doctor immediately.
What is First Aid for Box Jellyfish Sting?
First aid response for box jellyfish sting may be done by:
- Stop the person from rubbing the affected area.
- Flooding the stung area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds.
- Applying pressure-immobilisation bandage.
- Be prepared to give CPR if needed.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is an emergency procedure done when a heart stops beating. It is a life-saving skill that may be acquired by enrolling in a first aid course in Perth.
What is First Aid for Upside-Down Jellyfish sting?
First aid management for an upside-down jellyfish sting may be done by doing the following:
- Not applying freshwater or vinegar as these will cause more nematocysts to be released.
- Not rubbing the affected part.
- Applying an ice pack to reduce the swelling.
Nematocysts are simply the microscopic barbed stingers mentioned above that hold venom.
What is a Wasp?
A wasp is another animal commonly found in Australia. The Oxford dictionary describes it as a social winged insect that has a narrow waist and a sting. It has several species and among them, paper wasps are the most widespread species in Perth.
What are Paper Wasps?
The Australian Museum describes paper wasps with the following body features:
- Small head
- Medium-sized eyes
- Medium-length antennae
- Slender body
- Very narrow waist
- Two pairs of brown-tinted wings (the first pair is larger)
- Blackish abdomen with yellow/orange bands
Paper wasps form small colonies, and make paper nests under tree branches and the eaves of houses. When these nests are disturbed by humans, paper wasps normally attack and deliver painful stings.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Paper Wasp Sting?
Signs and symptoms of a paper wasp sting may be the same as the other wasp stings which are:
- Sharp pain or burning at the stung site.
Fortunately, these may be treated to prevent severe effects. However, it may also cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in some people. This may be fatal if a first aid response is not done immediately.
What is First Aid for Paper Wasp Sting?
The first aid steps in a paper wasp sting may also be followed if other species of wasp stung you. These are the following:
- Wash the stung area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold pack to the stung area to reduce the pain.
- Keep the stung area clean and dry to avoid infection.
- Cover the stung area with a bandage if needed.
It is advised to call 000 immediately if symptoms persist, reactions turn severe, or the stung person is known to be allergic to wasp venom and may have not brought their prescribed medicine.
First Aid for Anaphylaxis, the Worst Reaction to Both Jellyfish and Wasp Sting
As mentioned above, a jellyfish sting and a wasp sting may both lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. It may be fatal if an Epinephrine injection is not done by a certified first aider who may have enrolled in a first aid course in Perth.
Carrying an Epinephrine injector like the EpiPen Auto-Injector is advised for those who have experienced anaphylaxis before.
First aid for stings of jellyfish and wasp may be done instantly to relieve the pain and prevent severe effects like anaphylaxis. It is an allergic reaction that may be life-threatening if a first aid response is not done immediately. The first aid steps mentioned above may be performed correctly by enrolling in accredited first aid courses in Perth. In doing so, other life-saving skills and a first aid certificate may also be acquired.