Child Barely Survives Philippines Box Jellyfish Sting

A precious child is once again the focus of a life-threatening box jellyfish sting, another in a familiar pattern that stretches across South-East Asia.

A tragic postcript to the following story, is news of further deaths:

A 5-year old girl (17th May, 2021) and a 7-year old girl (8th June, 2021), both killed by the venom from box jellyfish stings at different beaches in Camarines Sur province, south-east of Luzon.

On the Philippines island of Negros, a family was day-tripping at beautiful Nabulao Beach when disaster struck. In the afternoon of 8 February, 2021, two young children were playing in the shallows with their father when one child let out a distressing cry.

The girl had been stung by a box jellyfish.

What followed was a deeply harrowing experience for the family as they desperately tried to keep their child alive. 

The potentially lethal venom had taken hold and the little girl had fallen unconscious. On the way to the local hospital, her mother performed CPR. She eventually responded to the treatment and gained consciousness before being treated at the hospital.

It could be construed as a miracle, but what occurred was swift and proper treatment, without it seems the availability of vinegar that should have been (and must be in future!) kept in case of an emergency at the Nabulao Beach Resort.

The child's sting was large enough to kill her and without CPR the outcome most likely would have been tragic. Her mother kept her alive, kept her heart and lungs functioning, through the danger period of 1 to 5 minutes as the venom attempted to paralyse her heart. The venom wears off after this period and if the heart is still beating then survival is the more likely outcome.

Children are commonly the most vulnerable victims to box jellyfish stings. Sadly, it is a story that repeats year after year. Stings are rare considering the number of children that play and swim in the shallows, however they do occur consistently and the risk should never be underestimated.

This incident was made public on Facebook and what else is most concerning is the high number of comments to the mother's post from people who have at some stage been stung by a box jellyfish.

Not everyone dies from a box jellyfish sting. The difference between life and death can often be a matter of centimetres and seconds depending on how much tentacle is attached to the skin, or where on the body the sting occurred, or the size, age and health of the victim, or how rapidly proper treatment (or incorrect treatment) was applied, and numerous other factors.

Prevention and treatment are critical in risk areas and being informed and prepared before going into the sea is vital, not just for parents protecting their children, but for everyone.

Thankfully, this incident ended well. It is, however, another warning to take care. Virtually transparent box jellyfish hunt small fish and shrimp for food in the beautiful sandy shallows that we view as an idyllic family playground. You and your children may well be safe for the most part, but be vigilant and tread carefully as there is always a risk with potentially deadly consequences.

To learn more about box jellyfish awareness and safety, please read the following posts:

Facebook photos courtesy of Ma Zita Vanessa Dequita.


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