Frontline Physician Confirms Langkawi Con
The beautiful and very popular north Queensland 'resort' town of Cairns with its international airport and renowned visitor facilities is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and one of Australia's Box Jellyfish hotspots. Below are comments from experienced Emergency Physician Dr Jim Reeves who at the Cairns Base Hospital is at the frontline of Box Jellyfish and Irukandji treatment. Dr Reeves was recently in Langkawi and was horrified to see unsuspecting people swimming in a popular self-proclaimed world-class tourist area near a number of dangerous Box Jellyfish but no warning signs, vinegar stations, prevention nets or any effort of visible swimmer safety were made available.
The first comment is Dr Reeves' reply to an article on this blog while the second was posted in a Tripadvisor thread on the subject:
Hi. Great blog site and good on you for trying to bring this out into the open. I am an emergency physician in Cairns, Australia and we live with irukandji and box jelly fish too. I started a thread in the trip advisor langkawi forum last year after being astounded at seeing 6 box jellyfish in the lights of a boat one night in the harbour next to the Dana resort. I was equally amazed at the lack of warnings and public awareness.
Box jellyfish without doubt posses the most toxic venom on the planet. The last few deaths in this region have all been children and they all died in less than a couple of minutes.
We are starting to see our first irukandji envenomations of this season. There is a spectrum but good going ones develop horrendous pain syndromes, very high blood pressures and occasionally fluid in the lungs. There have been 2 deaths due to irukandji in Aus but related to the extremely high blood pressure which led to intracerebral bleeds.
We have developed effective treatment protocols for managing irukanji syndrome and have anti venom for box jellyfish stings if they get to the department. Thankfully they are rare BECAUSE OF PUBLIC AWARENESS AND WARNING SIGNS, VINEGAR AT ALL THE BEACHES! STINGER SUITS! NETTED AREAS FOR SWIMMING AND WELL ESTABLISHED TREATMENT PROTOCOLS FOR THOSE STUNG !!
As you so rightly say if the government agencies refuse to acknowledge the problem then you are stuck and none of these straightforward measures can be put into place. Blogs such as yours are needed to continue to push the issue and continue to provide safe advice to those going there.
Avoiding jellyfish is very simple - you just have to know they are there and the local authorities should be doing that instead of denying their existence.
Well done mate