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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 25 - July 2001

Significant Papers Published 

  1. Radwan F.F.Y., Burnett J.W. Toxinological studies of the venom from Cassiopea xamachana nematocysts isolated by flow cytometry. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology 128; 65-73, 2001

    The tentacle epithelial tissue of Cassiopea xamachana contains nematocysts and symbiotic algal particles. These two structures were dissociated, analyzed and sorted by flow cytometry. A simple separating method was developed utilizing the algal chlorophyll autofluorescence and the nematocysts’ fluorescence after the uptake of fluorescent stains. A five-fold increase in mouse lethality; significantly more potent hemolytic and cytosensing activities; as well as a cleanup in the capillary electropherogram and SDS gel profiles for the crude nematocyst venom preparations prepared by fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), was observed relative to alternative methods. Because the hemolytic potency of the pre-sorting nematocyst venom was minimal and the post-sorting counterpart was significantly positive, the possibility the algae inhibited the venom’s toxinological activity was considered.

  2. Bloom D.A., Radwan F.F.Y., Burnett J.W. Toxinological and immunological studies of capillary electrophoresis fractionated Chrysaora quinquecirrha (Desor) fishing tentacle and Chironex fleckeri (Southcott) nematocyst venoms. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology 128; 75-90, 2001

    Repeated runs of capillary electrophoresis (CE) were used to study partially purified jellyfish nematocyst venom protein in concentrations sufficient to perform toxinological assays. Nematocyst venoms from Chironex fleckeri (Cf) and Chrysaora quinquecirrha were processed. The CE eluate was divided into quadrants by scanning protein content. The fourth fraction of both jellyfish venoms, contained proteins with the smallest molecular weight components, which were responsible for the highest hemolysin and the humoral and cell-mediated immunological activity. Cytotoxic Cf lethal factor activity against human liver cells was widely dispersed throughout both venoms but more prominent in fraction 4. A Vß receptor human T-cell repertoire was not species-specific for either crude or fractionated Jellyfish nematocyst venom.

  3. Silveira F.L. Morandini A.C. New observations on dormacy mechanisms in Linuche unguiculata (Swartz, 1788)(Scyphoa: Coronate). Bol. Mus. Nac. Zool., Rio de Janeiro 393;1-7, 1998

    In Brazil, there is evidence that in this area L. unguiculata reproduce more often asexually, by the formation of planuloid through strobilation and segmentation, than sexually through the medusa phase, and its benthic stage presents an undescribed operculated regression-regeneration cycle to rejuvenate the scyphistoma.

  4. Milla L, Puertas L, Celis L, Heimer de la Cotera E. Dermatitis por cantacto con Carybdea marsupialis (cnidaria cubozoa). Dermatologia Rev Mex 44; 167-70, 2000

    Cnidarias (hydrozoans, medusas, anemonas and corals) are a phylum of marine invertebrate animals, with the distinctive characteristics of having nematocysts- their organs of offense and defense-which are specialized structures to discharge toxins secreted by the Golgi apparatus. These toxins can cause cytolysis as seen in skin necrosis, and can be cardiotoxic, neurotoxic and myotoxic. During the warm months a cubomedusa species, Carybdea marsupialis, is seen in large numbers along the Quintana Roo coasts. Three patients had contact with Carybdea marsupialis. Two of them after swimming in a superficial zone of the reef in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, and the third was exposed by his own will. The three patients had intense pain in the affected areas, thighs, forearms, and left maxillotemporal region. The third patient was affected just in the exposed area. None of these cases had previous contact with C. marsupialis, neither had any systemic symptoms. In case 1 lesions on the thigh had lasted 15 days, presenting superficial desquamation and mild residual hypopigmentation. Symptoms in case 2 improved with topical acetic acid (vinegar), but the palpebral edema and the exacerbation of the lesion that appeared 24h after exposition remitted in less than 5 days. Cases 1 and 2 were treated with oral cetirizine and topical betametosone with good response. Case 3 was treated with topical intermittent acetic acid.

  5. Chung J.J., Ratnapala L.A., Cooke I.M., Yanagihara A.A. Partial purification and characterization of a hemolysin (CAH) from Hawaiian box jellyfish (Carybdea alata) venom. Toxicon 39; 981-990, 2001

    A novel hemolytic protein from the venom of the Hawaiian box jellyfish (Carybdea alata) was used to quantitate potency of crude venom extracted from isolated nematocysts and venom after fractionation and purfication procedures. Hemolytic activity of crude venom against sheep cells was reduced or lost after exposure too the proteolytic enzymes trypsin, collagenase and papain. The activity exhibited lectin-like properties in that hemolysis was inhibited by D-lactulose and certain other sugars. Activity was irreversibly lost after dialysis of crude venom against divalent-free, 20mM EDTA buffer; it was optimal in the presence of 10mM Ca2+ or Mg2+. Two chromatographic purification methods, size fractionation on Sephadex G-200 and anion exchange with quaternary ammonium, provided fractions in which hemolytic activity corresponded to the presence of a protein band with an apparent molecular weight of 42 kDa by SDS-PAGE designated as CAH1. The N-terminal sequence of CAH1 was determined to be :XAADAXSDIDD/GIIG. This work nicely compliments that of Nagai et al (BBRC 275: 589-590, 2000) mentioned in the December 2000 newsletter.

  6. Beate M. Czarnetzki MD, Thomas Thiele, and Thomas Rosenblach MD. Evidence for leukotrienes in animal venoms. J. Allergy Clinical Immunology 85; 505-9, 1990

    The demonstration of leukotrienes in venoms offers an explanation for the occurrence of local immediate and persistent wheals at sites of bee, wasp and sea nettle stings in nonsensitized individuals.

  7. M. Little, R.F. Mulcahy, D.J. Wenck. Life-Threatening Cardiac failure in healthy young female with Irukandji Syndrome. Anaesth. Intensive Care 29; 178-180, 2001

    A case of a previously well 24-year old female patient who developed severe and life-threatening Irukandji syndrome that was reported. She had signs and symptoms of severe Irukandji syndrome with significant cardiac dysfunction and required ventilation for eight days and inotropic support for 72 hours. This may be the most severe case of Irukandji syndrome reported to date.

  8. M. Torres, M. Aguilar, A. Falcon, L. Sanchez, F. Radwan, J. Burnett, H. Cotera, R. Arellano. Electrophysiological and hemolytic activity elicited by the characterization venom of the jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana. Toxicon 39; 1297-1307, 2001.

    In this study, the hemolysis activity in human and sheep erythrocytes, and the characterization of the electrical responses in Xenopus oocyte membrane elicited by the venom of the jellyfish Cassiopea xamachana (Cx) was studied. The (Cx) venom produced hemolysis in both species, being more potent on human red cells. The electrophysiological study showed that (Cx) venom elicited three different responses in the oocytes. One current was generated in all the oocytes tested and corresponded with a slow inward current (ICx) associated with an increase in membrane conductance. ICx was concentration-dependent and had a reversal potential of-10.3 ± 0.4 mV. Ionic substitution studies indicated that the conductive pathway was mainly permeable to cations and non-selective. The oocyte membrane resistance was completely recovered after washout of the venom, this suggested that the effect was due to generation of a specific membrane conductance as opposed to a possible non-specific membrane breakdown. A comparative study with three distinct native cationic channels present in the oocyte membrane [i.e. (1) hemi-gap junction channels, (2) mechanosensitive channels, and (3) the ouabain-sensitive channel activated by palytoxin], showed that ICx might correspond to opening of mechanosensitive channels or to activation of an unknown cationic channel located in the oocyte membrane. The bioactive fraction eliciting ICx were peptides and was separated from two other peptidic hemolytic fractions by chromatography.

  9. Suntrarachun S, Roselieb M, Wilde H, Sitprija V. A Fatal Jellyfish Encounter in the Gulf of Siam. J. Travel Med. 8; 150-151, 2001.

    A 26-year-old male died within minutes after contact with an unknown jellyfish leaving ladder-like welts. Pain was not mentioned and no other definite information was available.

  10. Fenner PJ. Harrison SL., Irukandji and Chironex fleckeri jellyfish envenomation in tropical Australia. Wilderness and Environmental Medicine 11; 233-240, 2000

    Adolescent and young adult males were the most common victims of Irukandji (median age 21 years) and Chironex stings (median age 16 years). Most Chironex sting occurred on the legs, while Irukandji stings were more common on the arms. Vinegar was correctly used to remove tentacles in 90.5% of the Chironex stings, whereas inappropriate treatments were used in the remaining cases. Chironex stings were reported in every month in the Northern Territory, and in all months but June and July in Queensland. The peak prevalence for Chironex stings occurred in January in both areas, while the number of Irukandji stings peaked in December in Queensland and in May in the Northern Territory. Chironex stings were more common on still, cloudy days, whereas Irukandji stings were more common on still, clear days. Irukandji stings were more frequent than Chironex stings on rough days. Chironex and Irukandji stings were similar with respect to tides, moon phases, and rainfall.

  11. Mianzan HW, Fenner PJ, Cornelius PF, Ramirez F. Vinegar As a Disarming Agent to Prevent Further Discharge of the Nematocysts of the Stinging Hydromedusa Olindias sambaquiensis. Cutis 68; 45-48, 2001.

    Olindias sambaquiensis, known as agua viva, is an endemic hydromedusa that is distributed from latitude 23° to 42° south in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean and is known to cause severe stings. This is the first report of the use of vinegar in disarming O sambaquiensis nematocysts.

  12. Haddad V., Cardosa JL, Silveira FL. Sebather’s Eruption: Report of Five Cases in Southeast Region of Brazil. Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo, 43(3): 171-172, 2001

    The authors report five cases of Seabather’s eruption, a typical dermatitis attributed predominantly to the jellyfish Linuche unguiculata (Cnidaria), that causes erythematous and pruriginous papules on areas of the skin of bathers covered by swimsuits. The rash is characteristic and the eruption is common in the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico and Gulf States of the USA. The cases are the first reported in Brazil and larvae of the jellyfish are present in the waters where the accidnets happened. See correspodence #2

  13. Rifkin J, Fenner P, Williamson J. First Aid treatment of the sting from the hydroid Lytocarpus philippinus: the structure of, amd in vitro discharge experiments with its nematocyst.

    Brush contact with colonies of the stinging hydroid Lytocarpus philippinus by divers and snorkellers causes itchy painful weals for which no first aid measures have yet been divised. Laboratory experiments were performed using common household substances to observe whether or not they caused Lytocarpus nematocyst discharge. Fresh salt water, aloe vera and ‘Stingose’ caused no in vitro discharge in nematocysts in situ. Urine and vinegar caused dischage in up to 10% and 15% of polyps per mm2 of colony portion. The results indicate that vinegar (used to inactivate the discharge mechanism of nematocysts in cubozoan stings) activates the discharge mechanism of the nematocysts of this hydroid. Therefore, dousing throughly with water to dislodge adhering undischarged nematocyst material, followed by appilcation of ice for pain relief, is advised. This is the same first aid treatment recommended for most non-cubozoan jellyfish.


  1. Suárez, E. y R. Gasca. 1991 Sifonóforos de Mexico. Biología y Ecología. Centro de Investigaciones de Quintana Roo (CIQRO). Chetumal, Q. Roo, México

  2. R. Gasca y Suárez, E. 1996 Introducción al Estudio del Zooplancton Marino. El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)-Chetumal. Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico


  1. Franco Kokelj from Trieste, Italy reports two patients with granuloma annulare after jellyfish stings. The stings were fired by Chrysaora quinquecirrha on the lips and arm. One developed a localized eruption and the other disseminated lesions with days of venom contact.

  2. Dr. Vidal Haddad Jr. form San Paolo, Brazil- nine more stings of Seabathers eruption have been reported from this area. Significant stings from Chiroplasmus quadramous appeared in Southeast, Brazil.

  3. Lisa-Ann Gershwin mentioned that breif appearences of Chrysaora achylous have occurred for the last three years off the Southern California coast. She maintains an interesting website on the internet at Pelagiidae. Additionally she reported the appearance of a local second eruption at the site of a Cassiopea xamachana sting a week or so after healing. The second episode was more severe than the first- a unique occurrence.

  4. Cassiopea xamachana specimens I found inocuous at Girls’ Flats, Harbour Island, Bahamas at Christmas, 1988; were followed by vaguely stinging ones in February, 2001