Health Watch - Summer Vacation: 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 enjoying a summer vacation or holiday weekend. Recently, there were reports of an increased number of jellyfish encounters at a Florida beach. Before you head to the beach, you should know how to deal with a jellyfish sting.

Jellyfish catch their prey with tentacles packed with poisonous stinging cells. Just brushing against the tentacles causes thousands of these cells to explode and launch barbed stingers. If someone gets attacked by a jellyfish, get the victim out of the water and use a stick or towel to remove any tentacles. Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt, a toxicologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says washing with vinegar can ease the burn of a jellyfish sting. Meat tenderizer or a baking soda paste may also help, but don’t rinse with plain water. That could release more poison. If the victim shows signs of an allergic reaction, like hives or difficulty breathing, call 911 or go immediately to the nearest emergency room. 


June 2011

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