Richard Jordan, 58, a British tourist from Driffield in northeast Yorkshire died on Thursday local time (October 6), after being stung by a tiny, nearly-invisible jellyfish while swimming off Hamilton Island in tropical northern Australia. He is believed to be the first person to die from a sting from an Irukandji, a peanut-sized jellyfish whose venom heightens the heart rate and blood pressure. There is no known anti-venom.
COMMENT: Mr. Jordan's wife managed to get him to the Hamilton Island Medical Center for treatment, but he went into a coma and was airlifted to Mackay Base Hospital. A spokeswoman for the hospital stated that the sting aggravated Jordan's preexisting heart and blood pressure conditions, bringing on a cerebral hemorrhage.
Translucent Irukandji jellyfish are a tiny relative of the lethal box jellyfish which has killed about 65 people in Australia over the last 50 years. Australia has hundreds of types of jellyfish, but only one species of box jellyfish, the chironex fleckeri, is lethal. It is known to be the deadliest jellyfish in the world. Irukandji jellyfish, which are just 1.5 cm (0.6 inch) to 2.5 cm (1 inch) across with four 50-cm (20 inch) tentacles, are found off Australia's north coast during the wet season, throughout the Pacific and in Florida.
The jellyfish venom causes a condition called Irukandji syndrome whereby the victim feels a prickly sensation at first, but 30 minutes later sustains severe cramps, stomach and back pains and nausea and can experience cardiac and pulmonary complications.