Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills
Portuguese Man of War

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US Army First Aid Manual
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Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

The Portuguese Man of War jellyfish is found in a fairly widespread area, more commonly seen in tropical regions of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Atlantic gulf stream, and appropriately named the “blue bottom” jellyfish because of its bluish/purplish tinge. It is commonly seen in the waters around Australia, as well. Its body consists of a gas fill, using mostly nitrogen to float. It is translucent, with a pink or purple tint. The Man of War has tentacles that can dangle up to 150 feet. The stinging tentacles are called nematocysts, and are quite similar to those found in jellyfish. The stings are extremely painful to humans, can cause shock and cardiac arrest. When taking out the stingers, please be careful not to use your bare hands, but use a towel instead. Scraping stingers out with tweezers or something similar would be helpful. Rinse and ice the area immediately and thoroughly with fresh or saltwater, then ice if available. Do not use vinegar, for this will increase the pain, unlike other jellyfish stings. Apply Hydrocortisone cream to the area. Benadryl is helpful as well. As indicated above, recent research has indicated that vinegar is not effective for relieving pain. Also, recent research from an Australian study conducted in 2000 has proven that alcohol and human urine can be dangerous, and in fact harmful if applied to stings. Individuals who experience any difficulty breathing should be transported immediately to the nearest emergency room. As with bee stings, certain individuals may have a severe allergic reaction to the Portuguese Man of War stings.




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