DOH warns against jellyfish stings

TOURISTS and locals in Central Visayas are warned to be cautious when swimming in jellyfish-infested waters as stings could, in fact, kill humans.

Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Cañal of the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (Resu) of the Department of Health 7 said jellyfish naturally sting to protect themselves from predators or any other harmful animals.

“It is not the fault of nature that we intruded on their habitat because they are there. Just imagine if someone trespasses on your house, what would you do?” she told SunStar Cebu on Friday, June 30, 2023.

A female tourist recently died after being stung by a box jellyfish while swimming in the sea in Barangay Pooc, Sta. Fe town, Bantayan Island in northern Cebu last Sunday, June 25.

Bohol resident Leslie Mardonero was with friends when she observed that her bust area had turned reddish. She passed out three to five seconds later.

The victim’s body bore several box jellyfish tentacles when the town responders checked on her.

Protective gear

Cañal encouraged the public to wear proper swimming attire as an extra layer of cloth between the jellyfish tentacles and skin to prevent severe stinging.

Rash guards and wetsuits can protect from deadly stings, especially for divers.

“The reason we have these proper suits is to protect our skin. We must protect ourselves when going to the waters,” she said.

Cañal added that putting anti-sting creams and lotions on the skin may not be efficient at protecting oneself against venomous stings, but still advises the public to do so in the absence of proper swimwear.

Dos and donts

Cañal advised those who are stung by a jellyfish to immediately go back to the beach and perform first aid.

According to Red Cross Australia, remedies for jellyfish include rinsing the stung area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds and removing tentacles from the skin with tweezers.

Cañal highly discouraged pouring urine as it could infect the wound and worsen the situation.

She said the best recourse is to bring the victim to the nearest hospital for urgent professional medical attention.

Emergency response

Alan Poquita, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 7, suggested on Friday that every local government unit (LGU) should have an emergency response team on standby.

“Could be in the form of trained fishers and boat operators, tour guides and resort staff conducting first aid and management of jellyfish stings, publicly available first aid kits in coastal areas with a high risk of harmful jellyfish stings,” he said. / KJF