Vol 73, No 4 (2022)
Review article
Published online: 2022-12-28
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There’s something in the water: an overview of jellyfish, their stings, and treatment

Emma P. DeLoughery1
Pubmed: 36583407
IMH 2022;73(4):199-202.


An increasing presence on many beaches worldwide, jellyfish are a diverse group of Cnidarians equipped
with stinging cells termed cnidocytes. Though few of the over 10,000 species are dangerous to humans,
and most that are produce no more than a painful sting, some jellyfish can produce systemic symptoms
and even death. Chironex fleckeri, the Australian box jellyfish, has a venom potent enough to kill in less
than 10 minutes, and for which there is an antivenom of debatable efficacy. Stings from Carukia barnesi
can cause Irukandji syndrome, characterised by severe pain and hypertension. Jellyfish stings have also
been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome and anaphylaxis. Though optimal treatment of stings remains
controversial, after removal from the water and addressing any immediate life threats, the tentacles should
be removed and the area washed, with seawater being the best choice due to its low likelihood of inducing
further cnidocyte discharge. Hot water immersion may be beneficial for pain control for non-tropical jellyfish
stings, and cold packs for tropical stings. In general, there is no consensus for the optimal treatment
of jellyfish stings, and so further research is needed into species-specific guidelines and whether there
are any overarching rules.


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