Health Watch - Bites and Stings: Jellyfish

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about preventing and treating the animal and insect bites and stings that can happen during summer outdoor activities. Swimming in the ocean might put you in contact with jellyfish, which can leave you with a bad sting.

Jellyfish catch their prey by launching barbed stingers and poisons into their victims from their tentacles, and if you run across a jellyfish, you get treated like prey. If you get stung by a jellyfish, get out of the water and remove any tentacles with a stick or towel.

Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, an emergency physician at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says vinegar can take away the sting. You could also use meat tenderizer or a paste of baking soda and water. Don’t rinse the sting with water because that could release more poison. If you have an allergic reaction from the sting, with difficulty breathing or hives, call 911 or seek medical help immediately.

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June 2010


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