The 29-year-old Brisbane man suffered from the potentially deadly jellyfish sting of the Irukandji jellyfish while wearing what is known as a "stinger suit" when he dived off a yacht into the water near South Molle Island off Queensland.
When the potentially deadly jellyfish sting happened, the 29-year-old Brisbane man was wearing what is known as a "stinger suit" when he dived off a yacht into the water near South Molle Island off Queensland.
The suit, though left his face, hands and feet exposed and he was almost immediately stung in the face by the Irukandji jellyfish.
The man was flown to intensive care at Mackay Base Hospital, 600 miles north of Brisbane, where a hospital spokeswoman described his condition as "serious".
The Irukandji, a small jellyfish with a bell approximately 2cm in diameter is responsible for the unusual and dramatic syndrome observed following stings commonly known as Irukandji Syndrome. The Irukandji from its peanut sized body has a single retractile tentacle ranging from 50 to 500 mm long, hanging from each of the four corners of its bell. Unlike most other species of jellyfish all parts of the Irukandji can sting and not just the tentacles.
The initial sting, while it can be a deadly jellyfish sting is usually not very painful. However about 5 to 45 (in my case 10) minutes after being stung, the person starts to have a severe reaction, including backache, headache, shooting pains in their muscles, chest and abdomen. They may also feel nauseous, anxious, restless and begin vomiting. In rare cases the victim suffers pulmonary oedema (fluid on the lungs) which could be fatal if not treated or complete heart failure.
In January 2002, a tourist swimming near Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays died after receiving a deadly jellyfish sting. His death was reported by the press to have been caused by an irukandji.
The 58-year-old man had a pre-existing medical condition that made a jellyfish sting fatal. He had a valve replacement and was taking warfarin to thin his blood. After he was stung, his blood pressure increased which caused a brain hemorrhage leading to his death.
The jellyfish that stung the man was not collected and its identity remains a mystery.
As with most dangers, if you take the right precautions and are aware of them, you can take steps to minimize the impact of the danger and still enjoy all the wonderful beauty of the reef.
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