Potential Treatment for Lethal Box Jelly Sting

Written by on December 16, 2012 in Marine Life
Chironex sp, box jellyfish native to Australia.

Chironex sp, box jellyfish native to Australia. Photo credit: Guido Gautsch.

New research reveals that lethal stings from box jellyfish can be treated with zinc.

“For over 60 years researchers have sought to understand the horrifying speed and potency of the venom of the Australian box jellyfish, arguably the most venomous animal in the world,” explained lead researcher Angel Yanagihara from the University of Hawaii.

Yanagihara and colleagues extracted venom from the jellyfish and tested it on human blood. They found that the venom of box jellyfish kills by creating holes in human red blood cells which “can cause an avalanche of reactions in cells,” Yanagihara explained. “This includes an almost instantaneous, massive release of potassium that can cause acute cardiovascular collapse and death.”

The researchers were able to treat the human blood cells with a zinc compound that inhibits the chain reaction and can even slow the hole-forming process. Administering zinc as soon as possible may be life-saving technique.

To learn more:

A signpost at a beach in Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia warning of the presence of the Box Jellyfish.

A signpost at a beach in Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia warning of the presence of the Box Jellyfish Chironex fleckeri and others. Photo credit: TydeNet..

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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