Be prepared for Irukandji and other jellyfish stings

RACQ CareFlight Rescue is warning beachgoers to be prepared this summer for the usual influx of marine stingers.

This time last year the rescue helicopters from Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast flew seven people from Fraser Island in a nine-day period - all were suffering suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings.

The patients, who ranged in age from five to 40 years old, were all stung on the western side of the island, late in the day.

They exhibited a range of symptoms including severe pain, nausea, muscle weakness, shortness of breath and cramping.

"Irukandji are one of the more serious stingers we can encounter," CareFlight doctor Todd Fraser said.

"They have a very minor sting initially, but that's followed by severe generalised pain, headache, vomiting and sweating. 

"In some people the venom can cause very high blood pressure and a life-threatening reaction.

"If someone is suffering a suspected Irukandji sting, it's important to remove any visible tentacles before they cause further envenomation.  

"This should be done carefully.

"Douse the area with vinegar, reassure the patient and call 000."

Other more common marine stings are from non-lethal jellyfish and bluebottles.

"It's best to treat bluebottle stings with hot water," Dr Fraser said.

"Rinse the affected area then immerse it in water as hot as the victim can tolerate. 

"A good gauge is to immerse an unaffected limb at the same time.

"Otherwise just treat the symptoms.

"Ice packs will reduce the sting and paracetamol can help relieve any ongoing pain.

"Many of the nicest beaches are also the most remote, so plan ahead, pack the vinegar and have a happy and safe holiday."
 


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