Jellyfish Squish  - Sting and Bite Treatment
Jellyfish Squish

Stung? Island Fire using 'Jellyfish Squish'

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June 28, 2008 - Northwest Florida Daily News

The new spray eases the pain from the animal's stings, fire chief says

They're out there.

One floats into a swimmer's underbelly and sears her flesh.

She screeches in agony and pleads for help, unsure if she can stand any more of the burning.

A passerby offers to urinate on her stomach as the entire beach watches, waiting for uniformed help to arrive.

Clearly, jellyfish stings hurt.

And while the spineless, brainless creatures can't help the pain they inflict, rescuers say they have an answer. On Okaloosa Island, it sloshes in a spray bottle.

"It's actually stopping the neurotoxins," Okaloosa Island Fire Capt. Kevin "K.C." Carvalho says of Jellyfish Squish, a product he's putting in his crews' gear bags. "It's the most effective thing I've ever seen."

A man in Savannah, Ga., invented the formula and released it earlier this year.

It is designed to neutralize the nematocysts deposited by a jellyfish's tentacles. It purportedly stops the flow of toxins and prevents them from being released into the skin later.

In the past, firefighters and lifeguards would scoop up wet sand and press it against the wound, hoping to lift away the excess toxin. The sand didn't neutralize what had already made contact, but it minimized the damage. A credit card could scrape away what remnants might be left behind.

A small improvement over that tactic was meat tenderizer, which went a step further by breaking down some of the pain-inducing proteins in the wound.

One drawback: Sometimes that tenderizer had chili powder in it, which didn't soothe anything.

As for the urination trick (Carvalho calls it "the old wives' tale of (peeing) on it"), its effectiveness has been questioned.

However, Jellyfish Squish appears to be as good as advertised. Carvalho says he used just a tiny amount on a child, who quickly stopped crying and asked to go back in the water.

The same was true for two adults who got treated and felt better within moments. They hiked back to the beach nearly pain-free.

It's been about two weeks since the last spike in reported jellyfish stings, Carvalho said. Typically, beach safety officials will raise purple flags when jellyfish sightings mount.

But they sting even after they're dead. Some can be buried under beach sand - either washed up or placed there by pranksters - where a bare foot might tromp down unknowingly.

Untreated, the sting can burn for four to six hours, Carvalho said. The spray is said to work in moments.

In 2007, more than 200,000 stings were reported in Florida.


Anderew Gant

Daily News
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