STINGER: Eight people have been taken to hospital in the past two weeks for suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings.
STINGER: Eight people have been taken to hospital in the past two weeks for suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings. Contributed

Eight in two weeks: Irukandji stings up, but not abnormal

A CHALLENGING trip to Fraser Island for Lifeflight's Bundaberg helicopter has marked the eighth suspected irukandji sting in about two weeks.

Two patients, a man in his 20s and a woman in her 40s, were flown to Hervey Bay Hospital after being stung on the island about 5pm on Saturday.

A 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl were among the six other patients who had been stung at the busy holiday destination.

Surf Lifesaving Services coordinator for Wide Bay and Capricorn Julie Davis said the high number of cases was an increase over last year, but previous years had seen similar figures.

"There's a lot of people that get on the western side of Fraser Island this time of the year, we could be noticing them more for that reason," she said.

She said education was key in minimising the impact of the irukandji's presence during the summer period.

"We're still over there every day, doing drags, talking to campers, people on the boats and charter boats," Ms Davis said.

Lifeguards often do ocean drags during this period, which involves dragging nets through swimming areas to remove any jellyfish in that section of water.

She said there were surf shops in Hervey Bay selling stinger suits for holiday-goers to wear in the surf, but another method to prevent stings was to avoid the western side of the island and swim in freshwater creeks instead.

"Around that December and January mark, we've always had stings ... in that area of Fraser Island," she said.

She said if a sting occurs, douse the area with lots of vinegar and call 000 immediately, as irukandji stings can take as little as 30 minutes to make someone seriously ill.

Ms Davis said a common complaint when incidents occurred was the lack of phone signal on the island, but most modern phones allowed users to use the SOS function.

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