Woman's jellyfish-sting death Europe's 1st

Aug. 26, 2010 at 1:08 PM
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SARDINIA, Italy, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- A woman had an apparently allergic reaction and died after she was stung by a jellyfish on an Italian beach, authorities said.

The death of Maria Furcas, 69, at the Porto Tramatzu beach in Sardinia, which was caused by a Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish, is thought to be the first case of its kind in Europe, the British Daily Mail reported Thursday.

Furcas came out of the water and collapsed on the beach after suffering what is believed to have been anaphylactic shock. Paramedics rushed to the scene but were unable to save her, the Daily Mail reported.

"The lady came out of the water dragging her leg and screaming she had been stung by a jellyfish. There was a very vivid red mark on her right leg. Then she collapsed to the ground and a lifeguard and other people on the beach rushed to help her. … She died on the sand in front of dozens of people" said an eyewitness.

Marine experts said they think Furcas's is the first fatal case in the Mediterranean, even though each year thousands of people are stung by jellyfish suffering discomfort and pain.

Furcas's death occurred only days after more than 700 people complained of jellyfish stings after jellyfish swarmed beaches along Spain's Costa Blanca.

"This type of jellyfish has always been present in the Mediterranean but now they are increasing in numbers due to global warming and they can grow tentacles up to 60 feet long," said Ferdinando Boero, marine biology lecturer at the University of Lecce.

If stung by a jelly fish medical experts advise first applying vinegar or salt water if available, but not fresh water as this can increase the sting's poisonous effect, and then follow up with antihistamines or, for extreme cases, cortisone, the newspaper said.

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