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Mother’s urgent warning after her son was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish at Exmouth in remote WA

Distraught mother’s urgent warning for swimmers after her eight-year-old son was stung by an Irukandji jellyfish: ‘He felt like he was going to die’

  • A boy was stung by a Irukandji jellyfish
  • His mother told 6PR the boy thought he would die
  • WA authorities have issued a warning  

A distraught mother has recounted the terrifying moment her son was stung by the world’s most deadly jellyfish during a family holiday, revealing the little boy told her he ‘felt like he was going to die’. 

Eight-year-old Ethan had been swimming in the shallow waters of the Exmouth Gulf, in remote north-west WA, on Monday afternoon after his family had been out on a boat with friends.

The boy’s mother, Jess, said her son had approached her complaining he had been stung by something.

Jess could not see anything in the water and had initially thought the boy had been bitten by sea lice.

Eight-year-old Ethan had been swimming in the shallow waters of the Exmouth Gulf when he was stung by the world’s most deadly jellyfish, the Irukandji jellyfish

The 'full-time travelling family' have been staying in the remote WA area for three months

The ‘full-time travelling family’ have been staying in the remote WA area for three months 

Jess told 6PR radio Ethan seemed fine for about half an hour but when the family were in the car on their way back to their caravan, the boy became ‘very distressed’.

‘He had excruciating pain in his back and stomach,’ she said.

‘As we got closer to our caravan he said he felt like he was going to die.’  

Jess remembered reading about people who had been stung by the deadly Irukandji jellyfish developing a sense of ‘impending doom’ and sensing they were going to die.

Stings from the Irukandji jellyfish can be lethal and victims are at risk of developing Irukandji Syndrome

Stings from the Irukandji jellyfish can be lethal and victims are at risk of developing Irukandji Syndrome

She quickly looked up Irukandji stings online and discovered that Ethan was experiencing ‘classic symptoms’. 

Ethan was fortunately rushed to hospital within an hour of being stung.

Jess said it was distressing to see her son in so much pain but the family were relieved when he was in the ‘good hands’ of hospital staff. 

‘You just want to take their pain away,’ she said.

The ‘full-time travelling family’ have been staying in the remote area for about three months. 

The family's terrifying ordeal with the deadly jellyfish occurred in the Exmouth Gulf, in remote north-west WA

The family’s terrifying ordeal with the deadly jellyfish occurred in the Exmouth Gulf, in remote north-west WA

Pilbara region Parks and Wildlife Service on Tuesday issued a warning to people to be aware of Irukandji jellyfish in Ningaloo Marine Park and Exmouth Gulf, following the ‘reported case of Irukandji Syndrome Monday 23 January 2023 at Bundegi Beach’.

The service said there had been sightings of two species of Irukandji – Keesingia gigas which have elongated, cube-shaped bells and range between 20-40 cm in length, and Malo bella, which are about the size of a fingernail and have an elongated tentacle.

Both species can cause Irukandji Syndrome.

Symptoms and signs of Irukandji Syndrome can vary in severity, but include muscle pain, cramps, headache, nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, sweating and raised blood pressure.

Anyone who suspects they have been stung is urged to seek urgent medical attention.

Wearing stinger suits or rash shirts can help reduce the risk of being stung by the venomous creature.

Last week, Shire of Broome issued warnings of Irukandji jellyfish along Cable Beach and Gantheaume Beach, around 1,200km north-east of Ningaloo Marine Park and Exmouth Gulf. 


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