The box jellyfish are usually transparent and may be a very
pale blue in color. They are cubed in shape, with four distinct
sides. Each side has approximately 15 tentacles, with approximately
5000 nematocysts, which are the little stinging cells located
on their tentacles. Box jellyfish are commonly found on the
northern shores of Australia, and often appear after a local
rain. Their stings can be lethal.
Unless treated immediately, a sting from a box jellyfish
is lethal. Never place alcohol on the stingers. Vinegar or
white vinegar is best poured over the tentacles to deactivate
the venom. If anti-venom is unavailable, make sure you immobilize
the limb and try to deactivate the stinging cells with vinegar.
Transport immediately to the nearest emergency room.
Sidebar: From 1883, when the first reported death by box
jellyfish was reported in Australia, through January, 2000,
68% of individuals stung by box jellyfish died from their
Healthcare Provider - Medical Treatment
For box jelly fish stings, there is
an anti-venom that was developed by the Australian Commonwealth
Serum laboratories. However, many emergency rooms do not have
this anti-venom. Of those that do, approximately 20,000 units
may be sufficient to control the effects of a moderate sting
to adults. It can be increased all the way to 100,000 units.
Local anesthetics, topical Lidocaine gel can be helpful, and
steroid applications are also beneficial. Morphine and Demerol
in incremental doses can help prevent shock. It is important
to note if there needs to be resuscitation, after that has
been successfully performed, there has been some benefit in
using 10 mg. of intravenous Valium. Caution must be used,
since this does have a side effect of respiratory depression.
Reassurance should be given to the patient. They should also
be told that after 7-10 days, there may be some skin tissue
death and ulceration at the area. These can take anywhere
from 3 weeks to one month to completely resolve.
Edmonds, Carl, Field
Guide for Medical Treatment, Dangerous Marine Creatures.