Reports of jellyfish stings have been on the rise this summer, and anyone who spends time visiting our beautiful beaches and enjoying activities in the ocean is at risk of coming into contact with a jellyfish. Most people don't know a jellyfish is near until they feel the sting.
Jellyfish have long tentacles trailing from their bodies, which is where stings originate from. Along those tentacles are thousands of microscopic barbed stingers full of venom. The venom is used to protect the jellyfish and kill prey. When the tentacles come into contact with the skin of another creature the venom is released and affects the immediate area of contact, and can enter the blood stream in more serious cases.
Signs and symptoms of jelly fish stings include burning, stinging pain, and a red, brown, purplish tracks on the skin often revealing the print of the tentacles. Itching, swelling, tingling, numbness and occasionally a throbbing pain may also occur. Most severe reactions can include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle and joint pain, weakness, dizziness, fever, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing and heart problems. detailedDifferent people are affected in different ways much like with bee stings. Often, the severity depends on the type and size of the jellyfish, the victim's age, size and health and the length of the encounter.
Severe reactions are more common in children and people with poor health. Midway Fire Rescue recommends seeking emergency treatment if the sting covers a large area, any of the severe symptoms listed above are present, or if there are signs of allergic reaction. When in doubt whether to seek help, lean on the side of caution and call 911.
Immediate, helpful treatment includes:
-Use seawater to rinse the wound and ensure all pieces of the tentacle are gone.
-Use an ID card or Drivers License to gently scrape the tentacles away.
-Do not rinse with freshwater as this can release more venom.
-Rinse the affected area with copious amounts of vinegar. This works to deactivate the stingers.
-Continue to monitor the victim for any further complications such as the severe symptoms or allergic reaction, dial 911 if needed. Also, monitor closely for many days afterward for delayed responses or for the rare occasion of infection. In this case, seek medical treatment immediately.
Remember to be safe and avoid the water if you see large numbers of jellyfish present, warns Battalion Chief Brent McClellan. If the area has been known to produce many stings recently, that's also a good reason to beware. Certain times of the year may produce more jellyfish near shore than others. Use caution and stay away from jellyfish that are washed upon the beach as they may still sting you, even when appearing dead. If dialing 911 try to provide a detailed description of your location on the beach. If someone is available, have them meet the responders at the street or beach access point to the injured person. This is very helpful when the beach is crowed and can ensure quicker arrival of help.