Calls for more research into Irukandji after fourth hospitalisation

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A fourth child has been airlifted to hospital in Queensland after being stung by a deadly jellyfish.

On Tuesday, the Bundaberg RACQ LifeFlight helicopter transported three young children to the Hervey Bay Hospital after two separate reports of Irukandji jellyfish stinging.

A day later, the same crew was called out to a young boy in K’gari (Fraser Island) with another suspected irukandji sting on his upper leg after swimming in a creek on the western side of the island.

The rescue helicopter was called out at about 2.30pm on Wednesday, and the pilot was able to land the aircraft on the beach close to where the boy and other tourists were.

He was then flown to the Hervey Bay hospital with his mother, in a stable condition.

James Cook University Professor Jamie Seymour has worked with venomous and dangerous animals for over 20 years, but says there’s a desperate need for more research into the animals.

“We have had one confirmed death in Australia (from the jellyfish),” he told NCA NewsWire.

“They have the potential to cause enormous hyperextensive crisis as well as huge drops in cardiovascular output but for the majority of patients, it will be severe pain and time in hospital.”

He said there is research being conducted into the Irukandji in Cairns, but governments should be stricter about swimming locations where the jellyfish are found.

“We desperately need more research on these animals.

“We have a crocodile advisory group, we have research and management teams for sharks, but nothing for jellyfish.

“Jellies put more people in the hospital than sharks and crocs combined.”

The irukandji aren’t exclusive to Queensland waters, and can be found in waters all around Australia.

Mr Seymour said they were mainly located in Fraser Island in the east coast, and up around the cape down to Ningaloo on the west coast.

The irukandji is a kind of miniature jellyfish whose sting is considered “ten out of ten” on the pain scale.

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