With droves of beachgoers expected to venture out to the ocean on the upcoming hot and sunny weekend, first responders are on the alert for patients who may be stung by highly venomous Portuguese man of war jellyfish.
A seven-year-old boy and a four-year-old boy were stung the jellyfish on Fire Island earlier this week, and the Long Island Coastal Conservation Research Alliance has reported that Portuguese men of war have been spotted on the bay and ocean in Montauk, at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays and at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon.
Portuguese men of war have a large, sail-like appendage on their tops that can propel them through the water, and their long blue tentacles can sting even after they die.
They are usually found in open waters in the tropics, but can be carried on the Gulf Stream up the Eastern Seaboard in the summer. Numerous men of war were seen last week along the Jersey Shore.
In an alert to emergency responders today, Suffolk County’s Regional EMS Council (REMSCO) said the sting from a Portuguese man of war is extremely painful, and if left untreated, could cause a systemic reaction. They can also pierce the skin of their victims and release venom under their skin, which can cause serious injury. The danger of the sting is proportional to the victim’s age and the area in which they are stung. Women and children are considered to be of greatest risk due to the lower surface area of their skin.
Symptoms range from immense pain at the sting site to abdominal pain, chest pain, changes in heart rate, headaches, muscle pain/spasm, numbness/weakness, difficulty swallowing, raised/red/soft tissue injury at sting site(s), runny nose/watery eyes and collapse.
The Suffolk County Health Department is warning bathers to stay away from the jellyfish if they see them and notify the lifeguard and to immediately seek first aid if you are stung, and to contact EMTs if you feel you are having a severe reaction to the sting.