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Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Science Of The Sting By Professor Yanagihara

"I would swim in the oceans in Hawaii and did an early morning swim and coming in through the coral and was hit by something that I could not see what it was.

It was a fiery feeling and fought to get back to shore. As a biochemist, I was intensely interested in this thing that created so much pain

Dr. Yanagihara gave a presentation on The Science of the Sting. Her talk focused on a creature that you cannot even see can kill an athlete. She opened up the talk with a question, "With Friends Like These Who Needs Anemones?"

"The box jellyfish have cubozoan porins. The standard of care was primitive in Hawaii when I was initially hit. There is loss of life due to cardiac arrest.

Death is rapid within 5-20 minutes for Chironex stings and within 2-48 hours in Irukanji box jellyfish. Anti-venom treatments are ineffective. EPI can kill, this is what I want all swimmers and their crew members to know. I started to collect information on the 2 basic families on the highly toxic venomous creatures.

The box jellyfish has acute visual powers. They have functional eyes, 24 eyes with an iris and retina. Single photons can excite the animals. Jellyfish can swim an obstacle course. With white light, they will swim towards the white light. With red lights, they do not do anything and sit on the bottom of our tank in the laboratory. I have been able to track the Alatina jellyfish in Hawaii. We have the oldest data set in the world, over a 16-year period. We know there is a complex cycle doing on.

Deaths by jellyfish are distributed around the world and we will do a collaborative study with Professor Doyle in Ireland
." She created a model to predict where fatalities may occur around deep drop-offs off the shore based on night pelagic survey studies conducted around the world.

She explained what happened when a sting occurs. She developed a unique process to capture the entire content of venom of the box jellyfish. "The sting can leave thousands of mineralized spines in your sting. When we catalogued the composition of the venom, I was surprised. What was not in there? There were neural effects, hemotological effects, and other effects that are surprisingly fast. I have found a novel porin inhibitors."

She has come up with two formulations: IV therapeutic and a sting care kit that is designed for non-lethal box stings.

"Avoidance is the best choice, but if you are stung, do not use cold packs because they preserve the venom, do not use a EPI pen, do not apply cold fresh water or alcohol, vinegar is a good choice to remove tentacles, do not scrape the sting, and hot water immersion is the best with saturated epsom salt will help."

Note: we were not able to adequately capture the essence and details of Professor Yanagihara's presentation as we would have wished, so please excuse errors in the above reporting.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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