Jellyfish Season

Sea swimmers and visitors to our beaches have noticed increasing numbers of jellyfish in Irish waters recently.  There are a number of different species native to Ireland but severe life-threatening reactions are uncommon. Lions Mane has been seen in many parts of the country and can cause severe stings. There have also been some sightings of the Portuguese Man O'War (pictured) that is usually found in more tropical waters and causes very severe stings.

Symptoms

In all cases there can be immediate pain at the site or itching followed by a burning throbbing sensation.  There may be blisters and swelling at the site and in some cases the area may become infected.  Some people may develop more severe symptoms including headache, muscle cramps, abdominal pain and chest pain.  Pain usually improves within 24 horus but local blistering may last for a few weeks.

First Aid

Do not rub the area

Remove any remaining tentacles with a stick or using a towel to protect yourself.

Wash the area with sea water; fresh water may worsen the sting in some cases and should not be used.

Ice packs or hot packs may offer some pain relief to the area. 

There is some recent evidence that vinegar may be useful if the sting was caused by Portuguese Man O' War or by Lions Man.  Vinegar may cause more venom to be released from the tentacles of other jellyfish so use it only if you are certain of the type of jellyfish involved.

Wild mushrooms

Foraging for wild mushrooms is becoming more and more popular in Ireland and Autumn is prime mushroom-picking season. There are hundreds of different species of mushrooms and it can be difficult to identify them. Experienced foragers will always advise that you NEVER EAT A MUSHROOM UNLESS YOU ARE 100% SURE YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED IT CORRECTLY.

Every year the Poisons Centre receives calls about possible mushroom poisoning.  Thankfully many cases are minor and patients experience only mild tummy upset.  However in some cases there can be very severe symptoms that require hospital treatment.

One of the most toxic mushrooms in Ireland is Amanita phalloides (Death Cap); see picture.  It can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea followed by liver damage. Symptoms are often delayed for more than 6 hours after eating this mushroom. 

Other toxic species can cause many different symptoms including sweating, salivation, hallucinations, flushed skin, dilated pupils, delerium, and drowsiness. 

Please contact the Poisons Centre as soon as possible if you have eaten a wild mushroom and you develop any unusual symptoms. In more severe cases it may be useful to have a sample of the mushroom to be identified by an expert.  Good quality photographs with images of the gills and stalk may also be useful. 

 

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