Associate Professor Jamie Seymour handles a box jellyfish while researching.
Associate Professor Jamie Seymour handles a box jellyfish while researching. Biopixeltv

Vinegar isn't the best course of action for jellyfish stings

MACKAY beaches are equipped with vinegar to be used in the event of a jellyfish sting but a new discovery could now revolutionise treatment.

Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine researchers from James Cook University and Cairns Hospital have made a discovery that raises concerns that vinegar has the potential to do harm when used as a first-aid treatment for box jellyfish stings.

James Cook University associate professor and venom expert Jamie Seymour said the experiments undertaken showed that vinegar further promoted the discharge of a jellyfish's venom.

Prof Seymour said the use of vinegar was currently recommended as a first-aid measure for jellyfish stings in Australia and America but he suggested this should be changed.

"Our research shows this (use of vinegar) may not be the best course of action.

"It's now for the ARC (Australian Resuscitation Council) to consider whether its protocol should be changed."

The box jellyfish injects its venom by nematocysts, which occur primarily on the tentacles, but in some species may be present on the bell (body) as well.

Nematocysts are like little stinging darts that fire whenever the tentacle comes in contact with chemicals on the surface of its prey.

"We would expect the ARC to consider this to see if the protocols need to be modified," he said.

"After being stung by a box jellyfish medical aid should be given immediately, with prolonged CPR to maximise the chance of survival."

Prof Seymour said although box jellyfish stings were rare, they could be fatal.

JELLYFISH FACTS

  •  Box jellyfish have been responsible for more than 60 recorded deaths in Australia
  •  New research suggests that the use of vinegar further promotes the discharge of venom


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