Irukandji sting two at Point Samson
Two children with stings from the deadly Irukandji jellyfish have been treated at Nickol Bay Hospital over the New Year period, in what is believed to be the first incidents of the season in WA.
A WA Country Health Service spokesman confirmed both incidents occurred at a popular beach near Point Samson.
"On New Year's Day, a six-year-old girl presented at Roebourne Hospital after being stung at Honeymoon Cove and was transferred to Nickol Bay Hospital," he said.
"On January4, a 10-year-old boy was stung at the same location and was also transferred to Nickol Bay Hospital.
"Both were given pain relief in the emergency department, responded well, and were sent home."
The spokesman said a quick response was crucial when treating patients suffering from Irukandji syndrome, which typically consists of symptoms including severe generalised muscle pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, breathing difficulties and sweating.
"Irukandji jellyfish victims often do not suffer symptoms until about 30 minutes after being stung, when severe pain sets in," he said.
"This raises blood pressure which can lead to potentially fatal complications.
"Vinegar should be applied to the affected area as first aid and the patient taken to hospital immediately for monitoring and treatment."
Irukandji jellyfish, normally only 2.5cm in diameter, are believed to be one of the most venomous jellyfish in the world.
They are most prevalent off north Queensland, where there have been two recorded deaths.
Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services director Lisa-ann Gershwin said although more prevalent further North, Irukandji were more common Pilbara waters than people thought.
"I've seen other stings at Point Samson before and we get stings at the Montebellos, Dampier, Karratha and Onslow," she said.
"There are four species of potentially deadly Irukandji jellyfish off WA's north-west coast, which have been recorded as far south as Exmouth, where there were 23 confirmed stings in 2013.
"WA has approximately 30 to 50 stings recorded per year."
Dr Gershwin advised residents in the North West who swam in the ocean during the wet season to take the following simple, but potentially lifesaving precautions before entering the water:
Wear protective clothing at all times: Use a full body wetsuit or lycra to cover up your skin.
·Avoid swimming following a cyclone or one to two days after a sustained onshore breeze from the North West; this is when Irukandji are at their most active.
·Avoid swimming in areas where there is presence of salp; This gelatinous creature, described as looking like "a chain of bullets from a machine gun", are the number one visual predictor for Irukandji.
·Avoid swimming in areas where you see gelatinous bodies that look like "crushed glass" on the tide line; they are also a common visual predictor of Irukandji in the water.
·If you feel itchy when swimming or notice a rash forming it is best to get out of the water as a precaution; Irukandji are found close to other microscopic sea creatures which sting like sea lice.