9 year old Israeli boy on Koh Phangan dies from box jellyfish sting

Photo via กรมทรัพยากรทางทะเลและชายฝั่ง

Officials are warning swimmers in Koh Phangan of the presence of box jellyfish after a 9 year old Israeli boy died after being stung while he was at a popular beach with his family. Thai authorities say they are now coming up with a long term plan to prevent potentially deadly encounters with box jellyfish.

The Israeli boy and his family have lived on the Gulf of Thailand island off the Surat Thani coast for years. The family was spending a day at Haad Rin, a beach on the southeast side of the island. A report from the Israel Times says they would often go to Haad Rin on the weekends with other families.

On Saturday at around 5:30pm, the boy ran out of the ocean screaming, saying he had been stung by a jellyfish. The boy’s father poured vinegar on the red marks on the child’s right arm and legs, but the boy became dizzy and passed out. The boy died on the way to the Phangan International Hospital, which was 15 minutes from the beach.

While an area is sectioned off with netting to protect swimmers from venomous jellyfish, the boy was apparently swimming outside of the netted off area. The Koh Phangan district chief, Poonsak Soponpathumrak, says there are signs on Haad Rin written in three different languages, warning people to only swim in the designated area due to the dangerous jellyfish. Vinegar bottles are also available at the beach to treat stings.

The box jellyfish, said to be one of the world’s most deadly creatures, can be found all year in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, but the venomous jellyfish are most prevalent from July to October, according to Sophon Golden of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

He went on to say that box jellyfish venom is extremely poisonous and has a negative impact on the cardiovascular system. A sting can cause the heart to stop beating within 2 to 5 minutes. CPR should immediately be administered to those who go unconscious, he said.

The venom also has the potential to burn the skin and leave scars. People are recommended to sprinkle vinegar on venom-affected regions as soon as possible. If the person is unconscious, CPR should be administered right away, and they should be transferred to the nearest hospital.

While box jellyfish are a fairly rare sightly, there have been similar incidents in the past. On Koh Phangan, back in 2014, a 5 year old French boy died after being stung by the toxic jellyfish. The following year, a 31 year old Thai woman visiting the island died after being stung while she was swimming in tambon Ban Tai. On the neighbouring island Koh Samui back in 2015, a 20 year old German tourist died after being stung by a box jellyfish on Lamai beach. Her friend, also 20, was stung and hospitalised after she tried to help her friend.

Following Saturday’s incident, patrol and first-aid equipment were quickly reinforced around Koh Phangan’s most vulnerable spots, Thai media reports.

Officials are now working on a long term plan to prevent deaths and serious injuries from box jellyfish, according to Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Warawut Silpa-archa. He has called on the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and the Department of National Parks to conduct a survey of the island to determine where box jellyfish are most prevalent.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has called for a meeting of all relevant ministries to find rapid remedies and avoid this from happening again.

Thai officials say that if someone becomes exposed to box jellyfish venom to immediately notify local authorities and to call the National Emergency Medical Center hotline number at 1669 for immediate assistance.

SOURCES: Matichon| Bangkok Post | Times of Israel

Thailand News

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Nisha Sethi

Nisha is a creative content writer covering range of topics from leisure, lifestyle and news. Graduated with a degree from University of West England, Bristol.

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