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      Latest update: - Authors: Ula Maniewski, Nele Alders

      Jellyfish are free-living nettles. When touched, they can cause blisters or burns.

      • Compass jellyfish occur in the Norwegian Sea.
      • Some jellyfish can be life-threatening, such as:
        • Portuguese man of war (Physalis physalis or Portuguese man of war or blue bottle):  Can cause severe pain, chills, fainting.
        • Cube jellyfish: There are several species of cube jellyfish. Some, such as Australian sea wasp (Chironex fleckeri) or Irukandji jellyfish can be lethal. 

      Risk areas

      Jellyfish are found in all seas

      • Portuguese warship occurs in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and sporadically in the North Sea.

      • Cube jellyfish are mainly found in tropical and subtropical oceans, but dangerous species live in the Indian and Pacific oceans, including in northern Australia.   


      In areas where dangerous jellyfish occur, it is sometimes recommended not to swim during certain times of the year or certain times of the day, or put on long swimwear. Jellyfish nets do not always stop small jellyfish. 

      First aid for jellyfish bite

      • Disinfect any wound thoroughly to prevent infection.

      • Seek immediate medical attention if you experience breathing problems, feel unwell or notice swelling of the face or lips.

      • Remove tentacles with tweezers.

      • Rinse with seawater. Do not rub as this will push the venom deeper into the skin. Do not use fresh water.

        • Bathing for half an hour in warm pure water (45°C) sometimes helps the pain. In the absence of hot water, applying an ice bag can also bring relief.
        • Vinegar
          • After some jellyfish bites, pain improves after using vinegar: compass jellyfishbox jellyfish (except Chironex fleckeri).
          • In other species, vinegar worsens symptoms: Chironex fleckeri (sea wasp), Physalis physalis (Portuguese warship).
      • Touched a box jellyfish? Seek medical attention quickly as antivenom or a cortisone cream may be needed. In the meantime, dab with vinegar and then remove the spines with tweezers.

      • It is not recommended to urinate on the jellyfish sting, nor does alcohol on the contact spot helps.

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