Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations

NEWS ALERTS

Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here

RSS FEEDS

Most jellyfish are, like this one in a 2009 infestation, not likely to cause harm

British Woman's Jellyfish Stings Likely to Damage Phuket's Tourism Image

Thursday, September 20, 2012
PHUKET: Authorities on Phuket are likely to be asked to explain what they know about an apparent attack by a jellyfish that left a British tourist with severe injuries.

The case of Sam Webster, 37, is reported today in Britain's Daily Mail, not just the most popular online news site in that country but the most popular online news site in the world, with millions of readers each day.

Ms Webster says the jellyfish attack took place in Thailand and she tells readers: ''I want to warn others travelling in Thailand so it doesn't happen to them.''

The only Thai tourist destination mentioned in the article is Phuket - although the article makes plain that the stinging incident took place somewhere else, away from Phuket, but reasonably close.

The long headline reads: 'I thought I'd been bitten by a shark': British mother tells of horrific jellyfish stings in Thailand that have left her scarred for life.

The article's accompanying photographs of Ms Webster's leg wounds are alarming. Ms Webster says she needed three months to recover and more than one lengthy operation.

''I'll never be able to wear shorts again and will need skin grafts in the future to help the scarring but knowing what I know now about jellyfish stings I was lucky,'' she told the newspaper.

''I could have died. I won't ever be able to wear shorts or a bikini again. My leg is a mess.''

The article quotes only Ms Webster and does not explain where the incident happened or whether she received appropriate treatment at the time.

Box jellyfish are known to have stung tourists on rare occasions off the Malaysian coast and near Koh Lanta, off Krabi, a neighboring province to Phuket.

Experts recommend dousing a box jellyfish sting with vinegar. The vinegar does not ease the pain, but it does counter the effects of the severely damaging jellyfish toxicity.

Without application of vinegar, a box jellyfish sting can continue to destroy flesh - which is what appears to have happened in Ms Webster's case.

Authorities at most beaches in and around Phuket and across neighboring Phang Nga Bay have been warned to keep vinegar for emergency treatment at all times in case of a rare but potentially deadly box jellyfish strike.

Ms Webster did not specify where she was holidaying in Thailand but she did say that she fell from a banana boat and the stings felt like ''hundreds of razors.''

She was transferred after local treatment to a hospital on Phuket and says she spent the rest of her trip being cared for in the unnamed Phuket hospital.

Since returning to Britain she says she has undergone two operations and faces further skin grafts to repair her leg.

''I am scarred for life but just pleased to be alive and relieved that it wasn't my daughter that got stung,'' she told readers.

''The pain was so bad I honestly thought I had been attacked by a shark. I've been through months of hell since this happened. I never realised a jellyfish sting could be so life changing. I want to warn others.''

Public Health authorities on Phuket are likely to have to explain the precise details of what happened in Ms Webster's case to prevent serious harm being done to tourism on Phuket and more generally in Thailand.

Had the incident been properly reported in the media at the time it took place, the potential damage to Thailand's tourism industry could have been minimised.

Lack of transparency means that many people will suspect the box jellyfish issue is, like the more recent unexplained deaths of young Canadian sisters Audrey and Noemi Belanger on the Thai holiday island of Phi Phi, part of an official policy to cover up incidents perceived to be damaging to tourism in Thailand.

The Phuket Marine Biology Centre has led a campaign in Thailand and Malaysia to increase awareness about the dangers of box jellyfish, the world's most toxic creature, and its treatment.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

gravatar

an anti jelly fish law is not gonna help I guess,
when I get a sunburn next time in britain I ll so blame the queen

Posted by bianca on September 21, 2012 00:33

gravatar

Typo in the headline, Ed. Instead of "likely" it should read "unlikely".

IMHO, of course.

Posted by Buster on September 21, 2012 02:26

gravatar

I was stung by box Kelly fish at naiharn beach a few years ago. VINIGAR is NO HELP.

Hot water ( hot shower) will give instant relief from the PAIN.

100% honey will reduce welts within 12 hours.

Posted by Danny on September 21, 2012 03:18

Editor Comment:

Many people think they have been stung by a box jellyfish when it's actually another form of marine stinger. As the story says, vinegar will not relieve the pain but it will combat the damaging toxicity of a box jellyfish. Nothing else works. If your sting did not respond to vinegar, then it wasn't a box jellyfish.

gravatar

If my memory serves me right, box jellyfish sightings on Phuket have been reported about 1y ago but I remember that at the time the official response was to dismiss the danger.

Nobody thinks Australia is a bad place to visit despite having a far more serious box jellyfish problem.

Phuket authorites need to realize what this article also emphasizes - cover-ups just make them look suspicious and downright guilty.

The Thai way of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil does not work in the Western world where (still) most of Phuket tourists come from.

Posted by Andrew on September 21, 2012 04:31

Editor Comment:

From time to time there have been sightings of box jellyfish but there has so far been no confirmed sighting at any of the popular west coast beaches. As Phuketwan has reported, there have been infestations from time to time of other kinds of jellyfish.

gravatar

Your photo looks like the genus Medusa Condomius to me. :-)

Posted by Ga on September 21, 2012 05:27

gravatar

This is the jelly fish that stung me

http://invertebrates.si.edu/jellyfish/images/Fig_01b_fullsize.jpg

(1) YES it was a box jelly fish.
(2) vinegar done NOTHING to help.
(3) YES I reported it only to be told that their are NO box jelly fish in Pheket waters.

Their we're 2 of us swimming that we're stung.
We both applied ALOT of vinegar with in
10 minutes of the sting.

30 minutes later ... INSTINT relief came when I hoped in the shower. Of the 3 stings I received, I rubbed honey on one sting on my arm and the 2 stings on my back I left to bare the pAin.

Next morning ... Where I rubes the honey was reduced to a red mark but no pAin.

The 2 stings on my back blistered and took months to heal.

I took daily photos to document the recovery, photo were sent to
Another Phuket news paper but they said this can
NOT be the same family of Kelly dish that stung me because their are NO box Kelly fish t Phuket.

I have gOogled box jelly fish stings nd it seems the only Good advice of what to do when stung is. Comming from me.

Hot water to give instint relif from the pain !

Posted by Danny on September 21, 2012 06:00

Editor Comment:

That's not a box jellyfish. You may have been stung but you were not stung by a box jellyfish. Best not to remain confused or to confuse others with inexpert advice that is not based on the facts. Jellyfish stings - of any kind - are rare on Phuket and along the Andaman coast. Because of its southern exposure, Nai Harn is more likely than Phuket's western beaches to have jellyfish or other marine stingers swept in during the monsoon season. But box jellyfish? Not so far, thank goodness.

gravatar

Forever in California we did not use Vinegar, but Ammonia. It was always effective. I have been unable to find Ammonia in Phuket and would enjoy a lead.

Posted by Bodysurf NaiHarn on September 21, 2012 06:15

Editor Comment:

Let me repeat: Vinegar is what the experts say is the best treatment for box jellyfish stings. Here's why: ''Vinegar does one thing only - it neutralizes the stinging cells or nematocysts that shoot the venom. It has no effect on the human body. There are around 1million stinging cells to each 1cm of tentacle on a box jellyfish that fire the venom faster than a bullet like a hypodermic needle action. The vinegar 'disarms' them and prevents them from firing. The faster this can be done, the less venom in the body, the better chance of survival - as long as the tentacle is attached it keeps shooting the venom. Removing the tentacle by hand or scraping, sand etc BEFORE applying vinegar is like a booby trap and a chemical reaction sends all the venom into the body.''

Other, less dangerous jellyfish respond to other treatments. If you have box jellyfish off the California coast, best let the authorities know. Please don't confuse box jellyfish with non-deadly jellyfish.

gravatar

just eat them like the Japaneese! yummy

Posted by poppops on September 21, 2012 06:29

gravatar

Culture is a wonderful two sided coin. The media in the UK has limited if not zero credibility only the uneducated believe a single word in print, online or broadcast on TV. They are to busy playing with their 'smart device'. This unlucky young lady will of course make a substantial insurance claim. Who's to blame?

Posted by Jay on September 21, 2012 06:59

Editor Comment:

Much better to fix the problem than to try to apportion ''blame'' for a rare event, Jay. The track record of media in Thailand is also not good on jellyfish incidents.

Little has changed since this report: http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-deaths-box-jellyfish-expert-shocked-misinformation-13292/

gravatar

In your article, the interesting think is that she fell down from "a banana boat" !!! then where are banana boats ?
Sorry but Ko Lanta and Krabi NO Banana Boats !

Then, as I very often swimm and spearfishing in "Ko Lanta" I will say that I saw twice in the last 10 years (mostly in low season) BOX JELLY FISH; 2 of them; but no One Banana boat and towing speed boats harmull with their propellers!
The sea is full of creatures, from 200 hp propellers to small arlequin shrimps !
Oups, I forgot the Next Daily Mail article will be about OMG and those rats experiences ! BE TERRIFIED EUROPEANS !

Posted by serge on September 21, 2012 07:10

Editor Comment:

We hope to get clarification on where the incident took place and we've noted that the article doesn't name the spot, although it does say she was taken to a hospital on Phuket.

gravatar

In 1985 I dived under a wave in Patong and came up with a jelly fish on my head and back. The pain was so intense and immediate I nearly blacked out. I was only 22 and very fit but I remember crying in agony on the beach whilst Thais plastered my back with a local plant that grows by the beach. They made a paste out of the green leaves. The pain was pure agony, never felt pain that intense before or since. After the pain subsided after a few hours it started to burn like a branding iron. Thais got cold cucumbers and put them all over my back. I looked like I'd been flogged by a cat of nine tails whip with red welts from my neck down to my thigh. After the burning stopped it became itchy for months and I had scars on my neck, back and thigh where the barbs had dug in. Absolutely certain I would not survive if it happened now. The body goes into a state of shock and I felt like my body was shutting down. At first I thought I'd been hit by lightning as it was like a giant electric shock. One of the barbs got me right on the neck beside my jugular vein which obviously didn't help. It took me 3 years before I'd go into the water again and I was totally paranoid about swimming in the monsoon season. I still watch out for them now, all these years later. I've seen them many times at different beaches during monsoon season. Don't believe people who say otherwise. I don't know what the name of these things are but they are very dangerous.

Posted by logbags on September 21, 2012 08:56

Editor Comment:

Jellyfish don't have barbs, logbags. If what people say about the quality of the water in Patong is true, the jellyfish should have left long ago.

gravatar

Every tentacle on a jellyfish can house millions of stinging cells which are known as Nematocyst. These cells release barbed threads to hook into the skin as well as sometimes releasing a poison which can at times be fatal.

Jellyfish do not sting their victims intentionally; when an object comes into contact with these stinging cells they automatically release their barbs. It is this action that makes jellyfish dead on the beach a hazard to those strolling along it. Even if a jellyfish is dead, the barbs will still be released by the cells upon contact. In the capsule a harpoon style barb and its' Nematocyst or stinging thread is released due to the pressure. The barb imbeds itself into the victims' skin and releases the poison not just once but multiple times.

J.V Marine World Australia

Posted by logbags on September 21, 2012 09:39

Editor Comment:

Yes, but Nematocyst ''barbs'' are too small to be seen. No point in making it sound more scary than it is. Thanks for the additional information.

gravatar

Sorry Ed, I agree with Logbags here, Jellyfish stingers do have barbs.
" Every tentacle on a jellyfish can house millions of stinging cells which are known as Nematocyst. These cells release barbed threads to hook into the skin as well as sometimes releasing a poison which can at times be fatal. These Nematocysts are very effective as weapons for the jellyfish and a single one of these Nematocysts has been shown to have the ability to paralyse a small sized anthropod. The deadliest of the jellyfish poisons when injected into humans are said to be found on the bodies of box jellyfish. A box jellyfish in Australia known as the Sea Wasp is thought to be the most venomous marine dwelling animal known to man. A sting from a Sea Wasp jellyfish can cause death within as little as two to three minutes. Jellyfish do not sting their victims intentionally; when an object comes into contact with these stinging cells they automatically release their barbs. It is this action that makes jellyfish dead on the beach a hazard to those strolling along it. Even if a jellyfish is dead, the barbs will still be released by the cells upon contact.

A jellyfish is able to create these stinging cells at such remarkable rates that they are able to use them as disposable tools. Every stinging cell on the tentacles of a jellyfish has a trigger hair which is officially known as a cnidocil which works by activating a nerve circuit in order to open the lid or operculum and simultaneously put pressure onto the cell. Multiple cells which are adjacent to one another may all be triggered at the same time. In the capsule a harpoon style barb and its' Nematocyst or stinging thread is released due to the pressure. The barb imbeds itself into the victims' skin and releases the poison not just once but multiple times. Once a stinging cell has been used up it will be replaced within a period of about 48 hours."

Posted by Robin on September 21, 2012 09:52

Editor Comment:

Indeed. Much better to put ''barb'' in context.

gravatar

Editor Comment:

Jellyfish don't have barbs, logbags. If what people say about the quality of the water in Patong is true, the jellyfish should have left long ago.

A sad retort Ed., which adds zero to the discussion I thought you were bigger than that. It's the kind of sarcastic comment that you have banned readers for posting. You sad git.

Posted by stu on September 21, 2012 10:41

Editor Comment:

If you prefer personal insults to gentle humor, stu, you're in the wrong place. Goodbye.

gravatar

can we stop using the word 'attack'- it's a jellyfish - not a shark!!

Posted by another steve on September 21, 2012 16:52

gravatar

I was with some friends in the sea at Nai Yang several years back and we became aware that there were jellyfish in the water. I then staretd saying that I've never been stung before, despite swimming with them in teh same area in the past. Almost 1 minute later.. I was stung on the arm. It hurt but nothing appeared on my arm until about 20 minutes later. Some woman rubbed some thai leaf on my arm which seemed to help a little. After an hour or so the skin was bubbling up like a burn. It faded after a week or so. Interesting experience overall. I will not swim there if I know they are about now!

Posted by Matt on September 21, 2012 18:30

gravatar

Some Commentors seem to mix box jellyfish to Portuguese man o war.

Posted by google it on September 22, 2012 16:30

gravatar

It would appear that the lady was treated at Bangkok Phuket Hospital having been transferred (complete with stings) from Takua Pa Hospital where in turn she had been transferred (complete with stings) from Pran Buri Hospital near Hua Hin about 600 kms from Phuket. A case of "have been stung by jellie, will travel." Seems her story didn't travel well either. Do box jellyfish stings result in memory loss?

Posted by Alan on September 26, 2012 13:44

Editor Comment:

A shoddy piece of unprofessional reporting by The Daily Mail. Instead of taking the trouble to explain where the sting took place and how the woman got to Phuket, this giant of online journalism simply removes all details and as a result, triggers alarm on Phuket. From what we've learned, knowledge about the proximity or not of box jellyfish could be improved, along with knowledge about treatment. I can't say with certainty this was a box jellyfish, but it certainly seems likely. It also appears as though she wasn't treated initially with vinegar, the one and only item that would have quelled the toxicity and prevented the nightmarish scarring.

gravatar

Ed
I agree entirely with your comments. Until there is definitive and proven scientific evidence about box jellyfish, every time there is a suspicious incident there will be all kinds of speculation. What doesn't help is a right wing rag like the Mail sensationalising and misreporting them. But then, why change the habits of a life time!!!

Posted by Alan on September 26, 2012 16:42


Friday May 26, 2017
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

FOLLOW PHUKETWAN

Facebook Twitter