Stings Stop Heart and Breathing - Victim on Vacation Survives

A peaceful swim just off the beach became a serious life or death situation for a foreign tourist at Koh Phangan, Thailand recently when what has been described as a large box jellyfish wrapped its tentacles around the victim's legs.

Within seconds the victim was dragged onto a boat and life support given as the unconscious tourist's heart and breathing had reportedly stopped. A long journey to hospital ensued and morphine administered by doctors seemingly without knowledge of proper jellyfish identification and treatment. As this is a box jellyfish it is the venom that causes the life-threatening symptoms - there is no credible evidence of allergic reaction or anaphylaxis associated with box jellyfish.

The trauma and the scars of this near-fatal incident will remain with the victim for a long time to come. The excrutiating pain and cardiac and respiratory arrests are signature chironex sp. envenomation symptoms though the jellyfish has been identified as carybdeid or single-tentacle (pictured) raising questions about the potentially lethal toxicity of the unknown Thai species. There have been numerous sightings of this type of species in the area around Koh Samui and Phangan recently.

Once more, this type of severe incident is most probably quite rare though even in this instance the report could easily have not been made, it's very likely many victims don't, but no-one knows. Even still, the tropical sea is teeming with jellyfish from sea lice to these big nasties, fortunately contact with the dangerous jellyfish is not common but it does happen. Sea lice are a great annoyance while other marine stingers can and do ruin a holiday. The only way to avoid these is stick to the pool or wear a lycra body suit. The suit stops the sea lice from 'biting' and if this victim had been wearing a suit they would be perfectly fine, probably would have kept swimming oblivious to what might have been.


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