25 swimmers get irukandji from stings

Alicia PereraPilbara News

More than 20 cases of the potentially deadly irukandji syndrome from jellyfish stings in Ningaloo waters have prompted the Department of Parks and Wildlife to issue their second public warning in two months for swimmers to take care.

About 25 irukandji syndrome cases, most of which required hospital treatment, from swimmers stung by jellyfish along the Ningaloo Coast have been reported to DPAW since March this year.

People have been stung by both the large species of jellyfish capable of causing the syndrome, Keesingia gigas, which are still being seen in low numbers along the Ningaloo Coast, and a small transparent species thought to be Malo bella, which can be difficult to see.

DPAW Ningaloo Marine Park co-ordinator Dr Peter Barnes said this was the highest number of stings the wider area had seen since 2013, with most occurring in the northern part of the Ningaloo Marine Park this year.

He said DPAW were looking into the possible causes of so many dangerous jellyfish in the area but little was known about the particular species present in Ningaloo waters, which were only discovered several years ago.

“We’re working with (jellyfish biologist) Lisa-Ann Gershwin and another scientist from the CSIRO to try and collect as much information as we can this year to work out if there are any potential factors, such as winds or waves or water temperatures, that might correlate with the numbers this year,” he said.

“The Keesingia gigas we’ve had last year and this year, but we’ve got such a small knowledge base that it’s difficult to know.”

In a statement, DPAW warned swimmers against entering local waters with any bare skin showing for risk of being stung and should wear stinger suits or rash shirts.

DPAW warned last month Ningaloo swimmers should be careful of jellyfish capable of causing irukandji syndrome

Irukandji syndrome symptoms, which include severe pain and high blood pressure, appear about 30 minutes after a sting.

Stings should be doused in vinegar and victims taken to hospital.

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