Portuguese man o’war jellyfish have been spotted recently on beaches along the coast of Wexford.
The jellyfish can be present on the shore as well as in the water. The Portuguese man o’war, also known as the man-of-war, is a marine hydrozoan found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Their venom is used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is said to be excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly.
They can often wash up in their hundreds, or even thousands. At the moment water users and the general public are advised by Wexford County Council that only a small number of the Portuguese man o’war. The council are urging everyone to be extremely careful on beaches – from sea swimmers to walkers who like to bring their kids or pets along with them because they could be fatal.
Wexford has an active sea-swimming community who carry on right throughout Winter – so our beaches are still busy despite the days getting colder.
What to do if you have been stung
1) If helping someone else make sure you don’t get stung yourself.
2) Seek advice from lifeguards if they are on duty.
3) Try to carefully remove any attached tentacles by flushing the sting area with sea water and removing tentacles with gloved hands, clean stick, tweezers, towel or scraping gently with the edge of a credit card.
4) Do not rub the affected area as this may result in further venom release.
5) Rinse the affected area copiously with sea-water (do not rinse with fresh water, vinegar, alcohol or urine).
6) Apply a ‘dry cold pack’ to the area (i.e. place a cold pack or ice inside a plastic bag and then wrap this package in a t-shirt or other piece of cloth).
7) Mild symptoms of pain and swelling can be treated with simple painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, while mild itching at the sting site may respond to anti-histamine creams.
8) Use HOT WATER for Portuguese Man o’ War stings at approximately 45° Celsius for 20 minutes.
9) Keep any puncture wounds clean and dry to avoid them getting infected and don’t put on a tight bandage.
Seek medical attention if there is anything other than minor discomfort. If the patient is suffering from swelling, breathing difficulties, palpitation or chest tightness then transfer to the nearest emergency department urgently.
For more about jellyfish stings head over to https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/hl/water/bathing/jellyfish-in-irish-coastal-waters.html