Large numbers of jellyfish (Medusas in Spanish) have been a problem from time to time in certain warm Mediterranean beaches in the early Summer in recent years. On popular beaches a red flag will fly. 2005 and 2014 were years of high numbers. 2016 is not expected to be a summer of large number of Jellyfish.
What to do if you see jellyfish.
Other than the obvious to keep away and not touch the jellyfish in the water or on the sand, and instruct children to do likewise. In Urban beaches the Town Hall will put up warning signs and life guards will warn bathers. You can always protect yourself by wearing protective clothing such as wetsuits, gloves and goggles and wear sandles. If you are stung, advise the lifegard or go to the Red Cross post (on many urban and all Blue Flag beaches) seek medical assistance or call emergency 112.
The first aid that need to be carried out after a jellyfish stings is as follows. The wound should be washed and imersed in a solution of 5% acetic acid (or failing that Vinegar) for 15 to 30 minutes . In the absence of these substances can be washed with salt water but never with fresh water. Inspect the wound and if needed remove any tenticles or debris that may have become attached. Do not use bare fingers or towels or tissues. Some tenticles can even penetrate surgical gloves so remove gently using forceps or other object with a fine edge (for example, a knife edge, the edge of plastic card)
Although itching is a common symptom one should not scratch the affected area at least until it is cleaned with the above methods.
As for the pain, the application of cold seems to be the best treatment for most of cases, but this must be done using a plastic bag containing ice so that fresh water does not contact with the wound. Do not apply heat. If this cold compress treatment is not enough, administer a painkiller.
To prevent any infection apply a non sensitizing antibiotic ointment. In severe cases antihistamines and corticosteroids may be administered by a doctor. Keep the unluck person under observation for several hours, and if there is any form of alergic reaction it will be necessary to go to a hospital .
Whenever possible it is useful to identify the species of jellyfish, perhaps a mobile phone photograph.
A detailed guide to the Jellyfish (in Spanish) is published by the regional health department here. InfoMedusa.es is a website in Spanish for the Costa del Sol of Malaga with information and an APP you can download with info and Jellyfilsh reporting system.
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