Fatal Koh Phangan Box Jellyfish Sting


A nine-year old boy has died after being stung by a box jellyfish at Haad Rin on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand.

The tragic news filtered through after weeks of warnings from authorities about the heightened seasonal risk to swimmers in the region including Koh Samui, while treating a number of victims for box jellyfish stings.

The boy who was with his family, Israeli nationals that have reportedly been living on the island for several years, was swimming outside of a nearby protective jellyfish prevention net on the evening of Saturday 28 August, 2021 when the incident occurred.

Matichon, a major Thai-language national daily newspaper, reported that efforts were made on the scene to administer proper first aid, including vinegar, and to revive the boy who was rushed to Phangan International Hospital.

Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, Mr. Sophon Thongdee, was quoted in Matichon saying, "Box jellyfish are normally found in both the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. They can be found year-round, but are more common from July to October." He also warned tourists to 'not swim in the evening and especially after rain' and 'wear a full-length swimsuit close to the body', while stressing not to swim outside the jellyfish net.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Warawut Silpa-archa, also expressed regret about the incident and offered his condolences to the boy's family.

Co-ordinated government action, in conjunction with international jellyfish and medical experts, that includes a network of various relevant departments, hospitals, researchers, local authorities and tourism/hospitality operators has established South-East Asia's most effective box jellyfish awareness and safety program. Previously, the last reported fatalities on Koh Phangan were in August, 2014 and July, 2015.

The message from the authorities is a simple one: pay attention to safety information and procedures and reduce the risk of a serious box jellyfish sting. 

Devastating tragedies such as this can be avoided if everyone preparing to enter the sea in high risk areas at higher then normal risk periods take the time to read the signs (multiple languages, clear instructions and diagrams) on permanent display at the beach, position themselves close to vinegar stations containing a vinegar bottle, and only swim within the confines of a box jellyfish prevention net. 

If you or someone close by receives a box jellyfish sting it is critical to not rub the sting area with sand or anything else and do not pour fresh water on the area. These will only dramatically worsen the situation and reduce the victim's chances of survival. ONLY use vinegar!!

Further Reading:

Photos credited to Matichon Online.


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