Skip to main content
Science & Space
The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

Hope over cure for deadly jellyfish

Several divers on the Great Barrier Reef have been stung by the irukandji
Several divers on the Great Barrier Reef have been stung by the irukandji

   Story Tools

• From the archives: Second jellyfish victim dies 

TOWNSVILLE, Australia -- Australian medical scientists believe they may have found a cure for the deadly sting of a tiny jellyfish that has killed at least two swimmers in the past year.

The treatment, using a safe and inexpensive magnesium infusion, has been successfully tested on two patients stung by the thumbnail-sized irukandji jellyfish, the Australian Associated Press reported Friday.

Queensland Health Minister Wendy Edmond said the initial results from tests at Townsville hospital were outstanding, resulting in pain relief within 30 minutes.

Little is known about the irukandji jellyfish, other than that its sting can cause massive pain -- some have compared the sensation to the pain suffered in childbirth -- and sometimes death.

Northern Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef, is annually hit by a plague of box jellyfish in what is known as "stinger season."

Tiny killer

However, the tiny size of the irukandji jellyfish and the potency of its sting has threatened to scare away tourists and harm the region's economy.

Last year two overseas visitors died after receiving irukandji stings and more than 120 others were hospitalized.

Aside from the anxiety caused by searing abdominal pains, the sting can cause a potentially fatal rise in blood pressure.

Announcing the discovery, Edmond said the treatment "has the potential to significantly improve the recovery of the scores of people affected by irukandji syndrome across the north each year."

Scientists now hope to develop an oral version of the treatment to administer in the crucial first minutes of exposure to the sting before patients can be transported to hospital.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Quake jitters hit California
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.