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Swimmer's painful encounter with deadly creature on Queensland island

The victim is not the first person to suffer a life-threatening sting this summer.

A tourist was in “considerable pain” after suspected of being stung on the face by an Irukandji jellyfish off Queensland’s Hamilton Island on Friday.

The NSW man was “suffering symptoms of the potentially deadly Irukandji syndrome” according to RACQ CQ which choppered him to Mackay Base Hospital in a serious condition. Irukandji stings can be life-threatening, so given the seriousness of the situation, its team collected antivenom from the hospital before flying 90km north to help the swimmer.

On Tuesday, Mackay Base Hospital confirmed with Yahoo News Australia the man was discharged on Saturday, a day after arriving at the hospital.

Background - Hamilton island at night. The palms in the foreground and beach in the background. Inset - an Irukandji in closeup.
A suspected Irukandji sting off Hamilton Island resulted in a 41-year-old man being rushed to hospital. Source: Getty/AAP

The Irukandji encounter is not a rare event — the creature's stings result in an estimated 50 people being admitted to hospital in Australia each year.

Recent incidents include a tourist in her 20s being reportedly stung by one off K’gari (Fraser Island) in February.

Deadly jellyfish migrating to southern waters

While historically confined to northern Australia, there is evidence Irukandji and box jellyfish are migrating to southern waters which are warming due to climate change.

In the Northern Territory, where there have been 14 confirmed box jellyfish deaths since 1975, swimmers are urged to cover their skin or avoid swimming in summer.

In February, Christine Evans, an aquarist at Sea Life aquarium in Melbourne, told Yahoo News Australia if waters continue to warm box jellyfish could eventually reach Sydney.

This summer there have been unprecedented numbers of venomous blue dragon sea slugs observed on the Gold Coast, Bondi Beach, Kurnell and Newcastle.

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