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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 27 - July 2002

Significant Papers Published 

  1. Thomas C.S, Scott S.A., Galanis D.J., Goto R.S. Box jellyfish Carybdea alata in Waikiki. The analgesic effect of Sting-Aid, Adolph’s meat tenderizer and fresh water on their stings: A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Hawaii Med. Journal; 60: 205-210, 2001.

    The study measured the analgesic effects of three popular Hawaiian remedies for stings from the box jellyfish, Carybdea alata. Aerosol sprays of Sting-Aid (an aluminum sulfate solution), Aldolph’s meat tenderizer dissolved in water, and fresh water neither increased nor decreased the pain of box jellyfish stings more than the control (seawater).

  2. Thomas C.S, Scott S.A., Galanis D.J., Goto R.S. Box jellyfish Carybdea alata in Waikiki. Their influx cycle plus the analgesic effect of hot and cold packs on their stings to swimmers at the beach: A randomized, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Hawaii Med Journal; 60: 100-107, 2001.

    The study measured the analgesic effect of hot and cold packs on box jellyfish (Carybdea alata) stings to Waikiki swimmers at the beach. A minimal trend toward pain relief appeared 10 minutes after the application of hot packs, particularly when the initial pain was mild to moderate. Cold packs produced no significant relief of pain, compared to the control. Date tracking shows that most box jellyfish appear in Waikiki waters on the 9th or 10th day after the full moon.

  3. Miyake H, Terazaki M, Kakinuma Y. On the polyps of the common jellyfish Aurelia aurita in Kagoshima Bay. Journal of Oceanography; 58: 451-459, 2002.

    Polyps of the common jellyfish Aurelia aurita occur naturally in the Taniyama area, Kagoshima Bay. The attachment substrata, density colony structure and strobilation of the polyps were investigated. The polyps were observed only on the horizontal undersurface of floating piers. They attached specifically to Mytilus shells, solitary ascidians, calcareous polychaete tubes, muddy amphipod tubes and the gap space that fouling animals peeled off the substrata. The polyp colonies were distributed in patches. Spatial distribution patterns of the polyps within their colonies were uniform. Stobilation occurred during late December to March, when water temperatures were 16-17ºC, and a large number of emphyrae were released. An increase in man-made structures such as floating piers in coastal areas may lead to blooms of Aurelia aurita medusae.

  4. Nagai H, Takuwa-Kuroda K, Nakao M, Oshiro N, Iwanaga S, Nakajima T. A novel protein toxin from the deadly box jellyfish (sea wasp, Habu-kurage) Chiropsalmus quadrigatus. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem.; 66: 97-102, 2002.

    The deadly box jellyfish (sea wasp, habu-kurage in Japanese) Chiropsalmus quadrigatus Haeckel (Cubozoa) is distributed widely in the tropical Pacific region. In Japan, three fatal cases due to stings from this species have been officially reported. C. quadrigatus toxin-A (CqTX-A, 44kDa), a major proteinaceous toxin was isolated, for the first time, from the nematocysts of C. quadrigutas. CqTX-A showed lethal toxicity to crayfish when administered via intraperitoneal injection (LD50 =80μg/kg) and hemolytic activity toward 0.8% sheep red blood cells (ED50 = 160 ng/ml). Furthermore, we sequenced the cDNA encoding CqTX-A. The deduced amino acid sequence of CqTX-A (462 amino acids) showed 25.2% and 21.6% sequence similarity to Carybdea rastoni toxins (CrTXs) and Carybdea alata toxin-A (C2 TX-A), respectively.

  5. Currie BJ. Clinical Toxicology: A tropical Australian perspective. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring; 22: 73-78, 2000.

    Tropical Australia has an amazing diversity of venomous fauna, from “the world’s most venomous creature” the multi tentacled (chirodropid) box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri, to aggressive spiders whose venom remains to be characterized. A review of venomous Australian animals is presented. All genera of highly venomous Australian elapid snakes are present, except for tiger snakes. Most notable is the taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), with the most efficient “snap-release” biting mechanism of any snake and venom components causing the full constellation of clinical envenoming features: coagulopathy from fibrinogen depletion (procoaulant), neurotoxicity (predominantly presynaptic neurotoxin) and rhabdomyolysis (myotoxin). Brown snakes (Pseudonaja textilis and P. nuchalis) now account for most snake bite fatalities in Australia, as result of severe coagulopathy and a poorly defined early scenario of collapse, postulated to be caused by profound hypotension caused by transient myocardial dysfunction associated with prothrombin activation. Other venomous entities include paralyzing ticks, the blue ringed octopus, stone fish and other marine animals with venomous spines, paralyzing cone shells, and a wide range of jellyfish including Carukia barnesi and possibly other four-tentacled (carybdeid) box jellyfish causing the Irukandji syndrome.

  6. Sun L-K, Yoshi Y, Hyodo A, Tsurushima H, Saito A, Harakuni T, Li Y-P, Nozaki M, Morine N. Apoptosis induced by box jellyfish (Chiropsalmus quadrigatus) toxin in glioma and vascular endothelial cell lines. Toxicon ; 40: 441-446, 2002.

    This study was made to investigate whether Chiropsalmus quadrigatus toxins (CqTX), isolated from box jellyfish C. quadrigatus venom, could induce apoptosis in human U251 and rat C6 malignant glioma cells and transformed vascular endothelia ECV 304 cell lines. Cell viability was estimated by MTT assay. Apoptosis was evaluated using TdT (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase)-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) method and DNA gel electrophoresis. Furthermore, the expression of p53 protein was examined immunohistochemically in the U251 cells. After the CqTX treatment, the growth of all cell lines was inhibited, the fragmented DNA was observed and some cells became TUNEL positive. The expression of p53 protein was increased in the tested U251 cells. The results suggested that CqTX induced apoptosis in these cells lines. The promotion of the p53 expression might be one mechanism of apoptosis induced by CqTX in the glioma cells.

  7. Hagadorn J W, Dott R H, Damrow D. Stranded on a late Cambrian shoreline: Medusae from central Wisconsin. Geology; 30: 147-150, 2002.

    Fossilized impressions of soft-bodied organisms are exceptionally rare in coarse-grained strata. Fossilized mass-stranding events of soft-bodied organisms are even rarer. The upper Cambrian Mt. Simon-Wonewoc Sandstone in central Wisconsin contains at least seven horizons characterized by hundreds of decimeter-sized impressions of medusae; these represent one of only two fossilized mass-stranding deposits. Medusae exhibt features nearly identical to those observed in modern scyphozoan strandings, including impression of subumbrellar margins and gastrovascular cavities. This deposit provides insights about soft-tissue preservation in Phanerozoic marginal marine sediments, and suggests that large soft-bodied pelagic organisms were abundant in Cambrian seas.

  8. Miyake H, Lindsay D J, Hunt J C, Hamatsu T. Scyphomedusa Aurelia limbata (Brandt, 1838) found in deep waters off Kushiro, Hokkaido, northern Japan. Plankton Biol. Ecol.; 49: 44-46, 2002.

    These medusae occur at depths of 242-432m.

  9. Mariottini G L, Sottofattori E, Mazzei M, Robbiano L, Carli A. Cytotoxicity of the venom of Pelagia noctiluca forskål (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa). Toxicon; 40: 695-698, 2002.

    The activity of Pelagia noctiluca venom has never been assessed on cultured cells; therefore, we have evaluated the venom cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and ATP depletion induced after treatment with V79 cells. Venom did not cause alteration on cell DNA, but showed remarkable cytotoxic properties. With the highest nematocyst concentration (150,000 nematocyst/ml) 74 and 39% cells survived after 1 and 3 h, respectively, when evaluated by Trypan blue. Treated cells showed increased ATP levels during the same time. Preliminary HPLC analyses have showed the occurrence of a protein-containing peak.

  10. Rojas A, Torres M, Rojas J I, Feregrino A, Heimer de la Cotera E. Calcium-dependent smooth muscle excitatory effect elicited by the venom of the hydrocoral Millepora complanata. Toxicon; 40: 777-785, 2002.

    In the present paper, we describe the results obtained from a preliminary pharmacological and biochemical study of the fire coral Millepora complanata, a regular component of coral reefs in the Mexican Caribbean. The protein-containing crude extract obtained from M. complanata (tested from 0.001 to 1000 μg protein/ml) caused a concentration-dependent stimulation of spontaneous contractions of the guinea pig ileum. The extract (EC50 = 11.55±2.36 μg/ml) was approximately 12-fold less potent than ionomycin (EC50 =0.876±0.25μg/ml) and its maximum induced contraction (1mg protein/ml) was equivalent to 68% of the response to 60 mM KC1. FPLC size exclusion chromatography of the M. complanta extract afforded 12 primary fractions, of which only FV (containing proteins with molecular weight ranging from 17 to 44 kDa) and FVIII (consisting of peptides with molecular weights lesser than 1.8 kDa) elicited an exitatory effect when tested at the EC50 of the original extract. After incubation in Ca2+-free medium, the ileal response to FV and FVIII was significantly reduced. Blockage of L-type Ca2+ channels with nifedipine (1 μM) inhibited FV and FVIII-evoked contractions. Cd2+ - (10 μM), an unspecific blocker of voltage-activated calcium channels, also antagonized FV and FVIII-induced effects, whereas the Na+ channel blocker tetrodotoxin (10nM) did not significantly affect FV and FVIII responses. These results suggest that the contractions induced by the bioactive fractions obtained from the crude extract of M. complanta are caused mainly by a direct action on smooth muscle cells, via an increase in Ca2+ permeability that occurs, at least partly, through L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels found in the cell membrane of smooth muscle.

  11. Radwan FFY. Comparative toxinological and immunological studies on the nematocyst venoms of the Red Sea fire corals Millepora dichotoma and M. platyphylla. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology; 131: 323-334, 2002.

    A method appropriate for isolating of fire coral nematocysts of Millepora dichotoma (Md) and Millepora platyphylla (Mp) from calcaneous material and zooxanthellae was described and compared with techniques that had been used before. Isolated nematocyst venoms of Md (Md-TX) and Mp (Mp-TX) were lethal to mice (LD50 values of 0.51 and 0.21 μg/g mouse body, respectively) and displayed variable hemolytic, vasopermeability and dermonecrotic properties. The potent hemolysins of Md-TX and Mp-TX, which purified by gel filtration chromatography, possessed prominent proteins of molecular weights 35 and 31 kDa and had LD50 values 0.35 and 0.25 μg/g mouse, respectively. Hemolytic activities of crude venoms and their fraction could be inactivated using known anti-hemolytic agents. Both Md-TX and Mp-TX had distinguishable antigenic properties and antisera to their venoms from immunized mice and stung humans were cross-reactive. ELISA assays showed an antigenic similarity among the studied fire coral homologous cytolytic counterparts.

  12. Kokelj F, Plozzer C. Irritant contact dermatitis from the jellyfish, Rhizostoma pulmo. Contact Dermatitis 46; 179-180, 2002.

    Rhizostoma pulmo is another jellyfish that stings sometimes and sometimes not. Whether this is due to geography diet or genetic variation it is not known. I personally found a medusae at Loch Torridon, Scotland and experienced no pain after exposure to my skin and lip mucosa. Here is a case of a significant cutaneous lesion lasting several hours with accompanying pain persisting 36 hours. The patient, a 47-year-old male was stung near Trieste, Italy was the senior author.

  13. Burnett JW, Pfua R. Aquatic Antagonists: Catalaphyllia jardinei sting. Cutis 20; 27-28 2002.

    Catalaphyllia jardinei is a blue-green soft coral, whose red-violet tipped tentacles have made it a very colorful popular animal prized by amateur aquarists. Its normal habitat is the Indo-Pacific area from Seychelles through Vanuatu and from Northern Australia to Southern Japan. It is regarded as mildly venomous. However, to our knowledge no prior reports exist on its sting’s effect on man. This account of a sting on the forearm resulting in a lichenoid eruption of a few weeks which was non-responsive to topical occluded high-potency steroids and oral anti-inflammatory drugs.

  14. Radwan FFY, Aboul-Dahab HM, Burnett JW. Some toxinological characteristics of three venomous soft corals from the Red Sea, Egypt. Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology 132C; 25-35, 2002.

    Three common Red Sea corals (Phylum Cnidaria: class Anthozoa), Nephthea sp, Dendronephthea sp and Heteroxenia fuscescens sting humans. Nematocyst venoms of each animal were lethal to mice and hemolytic to human erythrocytes. However, these hemolysins were partially inhibited by known anti-hemolytic agents. Venoms and their gel chromatography separated fractions have different dermonecrosis and vasopermeability potency in mouse skin. Venom of Heteroxenia fuscescens (Hf) was more lethal (LD50: 0.7mg/kg), with one prominent 97 kDa protein fraction (LD50: 0.55mg/kg). Hf venom was more hemolytic, more dermonecrotic and had more vasopermeable factors than that of the two other species. SDS polyarylamide gel electrophoresis of soft coral whole venoms and fractions showed different protein molecular masses ranging from 200 kDa to less than 6 kDa. High IgG titers were assayed from venom-sensitized mice blood sera. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) marked significant immunological cross-reaction between the studied soft coral venoms and their bioactive fractions.

Books & Chapters

  1. Fenner PJ. Marine stings, bites and poisoning. In Conn’s Current Therapy. (Rakel and Bope eds.) WB. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA, 2002.

  2. Angelini G, Bonamonte D. Aquatic Dermatology. Springer-Verlag Italia, Milano, Italy 2002.

    This is an English version of “Dermatologic Acquatica” a book published last year. The artwork, contents, and presentation of this small hand generated book are superb.

  3. Connor JL, Dean NL. Jellies: Living Art. Montery Bay Aquarium Foundation, Monterey, California 2002.

    This is a beautiful artistic book with fabulous photographs of Cnidaria.


  1. Two deaths from bleeding intercerebal accidents following Carukia barnesi stings (Irukandji) occurred in the Great Barrier Reef waters this winter. A 57-year old British male who was on anticoagulants and a 44 year-old American male were stung off Hamilton Island and Port Douglas respectively in February.

  2. Dr. Hiroshi Nagai reports that his isolated Carybdea venoms are not stable after freezing or lypholization.

  3. Russell Hoare saw a blue luminescent (at the pedalia edges) Carybdea at night between Mossman and Cookstown near the Endeavor Reef, Australia. Each corner of the medusae had 3-4 tentacles. The bell was not spotted and was 7cm long, but 35cm long with tentacles.

  4. Dr. Angel Yanagihara of the University of Hawaii is investigating the structure of the lipids in Carybdea alata nematocyst venom by mass spectroscopy. She finds unique long chin conjugated trienes. The work is in its initial phase and she looks forward to studying the biotoxicity of these compounds.

  5. Dr. Junaid Mahmood Alam of Karachi, Pakistan reports that the swarms of Physalis utriculus on three public beaches are worse than those of last year. Their numbers increased as the summer progressed from May to July, preventing recreational swimming. In June 150-200 stings daily were noticed by the authorities on work-up and twice that number each weekend daily.