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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Invasion of foreign jellyfish is threat to swimmers

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

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Portugese Man of War

swimmers have been warned to avoid venomous jellyfish which are washing up on the Irish coastline.

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Experts are unsure whether a young girl - who suffered a massive allergic reaction after being stung while holidaying on a beach in Cork - was struck down by a deadly Portuguese man-of-war or a lion's mane jellyfish.

The schoolgirl began vomiting and suffered a full body spasm and experienced breathing difficulties before she was transported to hospital.

The Marine Coastguard this weekend warned that a growing number of foreign species of jellyfish have been showing up on Irish beaches.

A spokesman told the Sunday Independent: "People are wisely avoiding them and walking around them because they will sting.

"At this time of year, it's not uncommon that they would head up this way as they migrate towards us and land on beaches.

"The man-of-war has a blue tail and would be bigger than a regular jellyfish which typically has red veins and is boat-shaped. Stay well away," the spokesman warned.

A sting from a man-of-war is akin to an electric shock and the mark it leaves is similar to being burnt by an iron - it is intense and painful, but if treated quickly does not usually prove fatal.

The man-of-war is blue in colour and can grow tentacles up to 60ft long but drift, virtually invisible, just below the surface.

They get their name from their distinctive body that is said to resemble a 16th Century Portuguese warship.

If the swimmer they brush against is frail, very young or elderly, the venom can travel to the lymph nodes and there are recorded cases where people have died.

Usually, the victim suffers agonisingly painful, large, red rashes which can turn into weals and take months to heal.

The Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish was reported on Bunmahon and Clonea strand in Co Waterford last Tuesday.

A lion's mane jellyfish 
was spotted in Dublin Bay yesterday in the water at Sutton.

Meanwhile, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Councillor Ossian Smyth has called for an upgrade in Dublin's water system following the tenth water quality alert this summer.

"Because the sewers are connected to the storm drains, whenever there is bad weather, it gets washed out to sea. People should never swim after a heavy rainfall. It takes two days to test the water, which is pointless.

"We need same-day testing to be introduced as soon as possible. Right now, swimmers are hearing that water they were in two days earlier was unfit to bathe in."

Sunday Independent

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