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The following information on Irukandji Syndrome was in our DiveMed Newsletter on January 30, 2002:
Constellation of signs and symptoms caused by envenomation by the cubozoan jellyfish Carukia barnesi. It is characterized by backache, arthralgias, myalgias, vomiting, pyrexia, dyspnea, severe pain, numbness, profuse sweating, anxiety, hypertension and tachycardia - associated with marked sympathomimetic (adrenalin like) symptoms. The name comes from an aboriginal tribe near Cairns, Australia. http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/...ers/hadok.html
"In 1943, whilst serving with troops stationed in the Cairns, North Queensland area, Dr Ron Southcott first described a strange syndrome that occurred in a group of troops who went swimming in the tropical seas. This syndrome presented with a minor skin sting but was followed approximately 30 minutes later by a bizarre set of distressing systemic symptoms. He called these Type "A" stingings to distinguish between another group of jellyfish stings, which caused severe and instant local skin pain (Type "B" stings, later identified as being due to the Chironex box jellyfish).
Still unaware of the cause, in 1952 Flecker named this set of delayed systemic symptoms the "Irukandji syndrome", after a local aboriginal tribe in the Palm Cove, Cairns area, where most of these envenomations occurred. However, it was not until 1966 that Dr Jack Barnes, using some amazing detective work, captured a small (1.5-2.0cm bell diameter) carybdeid (box jellyfish with just one tentacle in each corner). He then stung himself, his son and a volunteer lifesaver to see if it caused the Irukandji syndrome. All three ended up in the Cairns Base Hospital Intensive Care Unit with the typical severe systemic symptoms of the Irukandji syndrome described below (this is not a recommended procedure!). Southcott later named the jellyfish Carukia barnesi after its intrepid discoverer.
Many stings are now being reported south of Cairns with a number in the Whitsunday region.
A fatality occured recently but cardiac problems have taken the blame. The offshore islands were previously thought to be relatively risk free.