An Australian teenager died in hospital on Monday, a week after he was stung by a “box jellyfish”, ie a cube jellyfish, in Queensland.
The incident took place when the boy was swimming at Patterson Point near the city of Bamaga.
This type of jellyfish lives in tropical and subtropical waters, including around Australia, according to Large Norwegian encyclopedia. Contact with the tentacles, which can be up to three meters long, can be very fatal to humans.
– We have failed
A spokesman for Townsville Hospital said the boy arrived at the hospital in critical condition. Queensland police have confirmed the 17-year-old died Monday, according to Australian ABC.
Marine biologist and jellyfish expert Dr. Lisa-ann Gershwhin says the 17-year-old’s death could have been prevented with better resources and knowledge for remote communities.
– As a country, we must be better. There are educational programs, “stingers” networks, protective clothing. These are things we use in the more populated areas of Queensland, in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay, she says according to The Guardian.
In the area where the boy was stabbed, that is not the case.
– We do not have these programs in place and I think we have failed our remote communities. We have failed this poor young man, and his family and community are paying the price.
According to Australian media, this is the first death caused by a 15-year-old cube jellyfish. According to Gershwhin, the previous death also took place in Bamaga.
According to 7news the death was allegedly caused by the species «Chironex fleckeri». According to SNL, deaths are particularly caused by this Australian species, characterized as the world’s most venomous animal.
In the aftermath of the incident, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service went out with one warning.
“The recent incident in Bamaga is a timely warning to take precautions when swimming in the sea in northern waters,” said Dr. Marlow Coates.
Furthermore, Dr. Coates said that they see observations of both cube jellyfish and other jellyfish that can cause Irukandji syndrome in the water.
– If you do not have a protective suit and you know there may be jellyfish in the water, do not go outside, he said.
Jellyfish that can cause Irukandji syndrome have been found along Australia’s northern coastline, from Fraser Island in Queensland, along the Northern Territory, to Broome in the northern part of Western Australia, according to the Northern Territory’s website.
Jellyfish bites that cause the syndrome develop in anywhere from a few minutes to 45 minutes. It can cause, among other things, nausea, headaches, waves of spasms in the back and stomach, dizziness and difficulty breathing, according to the hospital.
– It is also important that people are familiar with resuscitation methods – rapid resuscitation after large stings from cube jellyfish has saved lives in recent years, the doctor said.
Rachel (10) survived
It is most likely that there are cube jellyfish in the water from October 1 to May 31, according to the Northern Territory website.
They have poison in their tentacles that can kill a person in less than five minutes. Millions of “stick” cells cover each tentacle, and these emit toxins on contact with skin.
A large dose of poison can cause cardiac arrest within minutes, especially in young children, according to the website.
– I do not know of a single case in the literature where someone has survived after being burned so extensively, said professor of zoology and tropical ecology, Jamie Seymour, at James Cook University, at the time.
– When I saw pictures of the injuries, I thought: “To be honest, this girl should not have been alive”, he added.