A BOX JELLYFISH DEATH AT KOH PHANGAN – A RARE THAI BEACH TRAGEDY

A nine year old Israeli boy living in Thailand has died after being stung by a venomous jellyfish on Saturday, 28th August.  The boy and his family have lived for several years on the Koh Phangan Island in southeast Thailand.

On Saturday, the family was spending time at the beach when the boy was stung by a jellyfish, believed to be a poisonous box jellyfish.  Medical personnel administered first aid to the boy, but not in time to counteract the venom from the jellyfish bite.  He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Israeli Embassy in Thailand was reportedly in contact with the boy’s father.  “This is a horrible story,” an Israeli who has lived on the island for five years told Israeli media.

The man, identified in the report only by the Hebrew letter “Nun,” said that at on the beach where the deadly sting happened, there is a fenced-off area on the seashore that is intended to provide a safe space for bathers, however many ignore it as it is inconvenient to use and not located at the popular part of the beach.

According to Nun, the boy had entered the water outside of the gated area.  Nun said that several Israeli families had gathered on the beach as was their custom every Saturday, along with many others.

The boy had been playing for some time in shallow water along with other youngsters when he suddenly ran screaming from the water, saying he had been stung. Though he was given immediate first aid he swiftly passed out and was taken to a hospital fifteen minutes away.

Nun said the local expatriate Israeli community living on the island is “depressed” by what happened.  “It doesn’t seem to me that anyone of the Israelis will let a child enter the water” in the coming years he said. “It will take time until they calm down.”

A BOX JELLYFISH DEATH AT KOH PHANGAN – A RARE THAI BEACH TRAGEDY

incidents of stings are known to happen each year between July and October when there are high numbers of jellyfish in the water, though the stings are rarely fatal.

Box jellyfish are known to prefer relatively shallow, calm waters where they are much more pro-active than other jellyfish species.  Many of which are simply swept along with the currents. These hunters of small fish have been observed patrolling back and forth along beaches trailing their long tentacles.

Box jellyfish also have rudimentary eyes that allow them to swim around obstacles. With bodies that grow to a square bell about 20  – 30 centimetres across each side, box jellies trail tentacles as long as three metres.

Being translucent, Box jellyfish are near invisible to the human eye, and people can walk or swim right into them even in clear water.  If large numbers of stinging cells wrap around a human torso, a quick death can occur just minutes after emerging from the water.  Those stung on the arms and legs by a Box jellyfish often survive, but excruciating pain and deep welts that don’t heal for months.

Statistically, deaths are almost insignificant.  Considering the number of times each tourist swims off a Thai beach during busier years, the statistical chances of a fatal or near fatal encounter with a Box jellyfish has to be one in many hundreds of millions.

Most Box jellyfish stings take place in shallow water, close to shore in calm, shallow water surrounding islands such as Koh Pha Ngan, which is known to be favoured by the box jellies.

A BOX JELLYFISH DEATH AT KOH PHANGAN – A RARE THAI BEACH TRAGEDY

From 1999 to 2015, 40 people were reported to have been severely injured by jellyfish poison. Eight of them died of box jellyfish venom. Box jellyfish are found in 12 provinces including Krabi, Chumphon, Trang, Phetchaburi, Trat, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Pattani, Phuket, Satun, Songkhla, Surat Thani and Rayong.

A preliminary measure for treating jellyfish venom is cleaning wounds with vinegar, because it will destroy the venom. If the victims have a heart attack, it is necessary to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and take them to hospital as soon as possible.

A BOX JELLYFISH DEATH AT KOH PHANGAN – A RARE THAI BEACH TRAGEDY