Interest in envenoming syndromes caused by Australian jellyfish has been intense since the deaths in early 2002 of two tourists in Queensland, attributed to the Irukandji syndrome. We review current knowledge of these envenoming syndromes, mechanisms of venom action and therapy, focusing on the deadly box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri, and the array of jellyfish thought to cause the Irukandji syndrome. Current understanding of jellyfish venom activity is very limited, and many treatments are unproven and based on anecdote.
Worldwide media attention recently focused on Australia following the first two known human fatalities attributed to the Irukandji syndrome in Queensland in 2002.1 Jellyfish envenoming represents a major cost to northern Australian communities in terms of public health, leisure and tourism. Management of these syndromes depends on improved understanding of venom action and critical analysis of current therapy.
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