A MAN dived face-first into an extremely venomous, peanut-sized jellyfish in waters off north-east Australia and medics flew him to a hospital intensive care unit to treat the potentially fatal sting, officials said.
The 29-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was on a yacht off north-east Queensland state.
As a precaution, he was wearing a full-length “stinger suit”, a lightweight version of a wetsuit that covers everything but the face, feet and hands and helps protect against venomous jellyfish that are common in northern Australia during the southern hemisphere summer.
But when he dived into the water near South Molle Island, he was immediately stung in the face by a potentially lethal Irukandji jellyfish, Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service spokeswoman Leonie Hansen said.
He was taken back to the island, where a rescue team rushed to his aid.
“The crew said he was shivering and in shock and in a great deal of pain,” Ms Hansen said.
The man, from the Queensland capital Brisbane, was in serious condition yesterday at Mackay Base Hospital 960km north of Brisbane, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The jellyfish’s sting can lead to Irukandji syndrome, a set of symptoms that includes shooting pains in the muscles and chest, vomiting, restlessness and anxiety.
Some symptoms can last for more than a week, and the syndrome can occasionally lead to a rapid rise in blood pressure and heart failure.
In 2002, two tourists were killed in separate incidents after being stung by the tiny creatures – the first recorded Irukandji fatalities.
But because the jellyfish leave almost no mark on their victims, scientists believe they are responsible for many deaths that were attributed as drownings or heart attacks, said marine biologist Lisa Gershwin, who has spent 11 years studying the animals.
“It’s extremely serious,” Ms Gershwin said. “One of the very worst stings I’ve ever seen – sting as in permanent heart damage – was just three dots on the finger.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved