A giant jellyfish, described as the "size of a turkey platter" and weighing around 50 pounds, stung approximately 150 people on Wednesday at a beach in New Hampshire. The giant Lion's Mane jellyfish, commonly not seen in waters so far south, probably drifted close to shore because it was dead. The victims were treated with vinegar and are all okay, including nine children.
The tentacles of jellyfish contain a venom which can remain potent even once the jellyfish is dead. Officials tried removing the carcass, which then broke into pieces in the water, releasing its barbed tentacles. These poisonous barbs, called nematocysts, release when the jellyfish comes into contact with something, whether it be its prey or a human being.
Although most of these stings are not health threatening, they can range in pain from minor to severe. Generally they do not require medical attention, except in a very small percentage of cases where the sting from certain jellyfish could be life threatening.
Chicago resident Stephen T. was snorkeling in the calm waters of the Cayman Islands when suddenly a sharp, localized pain came upon him. "It felt like several bees were stinging me continuously on my shoulder. I had no idea what was causing the pain, nor could I see anything."
The stinging lasted for about five minutes. Once he got to shore, he noticed a perfect pattern of 5 red dots on his shoulder. Surfers told him it was a jellyfish that attacked him, and recommended an application of meat tenderizer onto the affected site.
Jellyfish are found in every ocean, so it's likely if you are swimming or snorkeling while on vacation, you may run into one. Literally. Many of them are clear, so you may not even see it when you are in the water. They are composed of a gelatinous substance made of 95% water; and are generally smaller in size.
If you do experience a systemic reaction, similar to an anaphylactic reaction from a bee sting, seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, the following common home remedies that can help ease the pain from the sting:
- Remove tentacles gently from the affected area by pouring sea water gingerly over them. Don't rub!
- Pour vinegar on the affected area to deactivate remaining tentacles.
- Apply a paste, made from sea water and baking powder, to the area. When it's dry, use a credit card to gently scrape off the paste, which should remove any remaining tentacles.
- Those surfers were right! Meat tenderizer does help to remove tentacles and relieve discomfort.
- Immerse in hot water for about 20 minutes, then use ice packs and steroidal skin cream to help relieve irritation and discomfort.
Giant jellyfish stings over 100 in New Hampshire