The box jellyfish is undoubtedly infamous for the venomous punch its sting packs. It is definitely not an animal that you want to have an unplanned encounter with. However, the impact of their stings could soon be lessened. According to a recent study, there may be a new treatment that’ll take the sting right out of its venom.
Finding the Zinc based treatment
Angel Yanagihara, a research professor at the Department of Tropical Medicine at the University of Hawaii who was intrigued by box jellyfish after being stung, has began to study their anatomy and found that a Zinc-based supplement has been proven to prevent death in lab mice injected with box jellyfish venom.
Gluconate, the zinc-based compound, works by preventing ions that keep the heart beating, from leaking out of blood vessels.
If further studies on larger test subjects prove to be successful, this treatment could be used to prevent human death from jellyfish stings.
A topical version of the compound has been found to reduce swelling and pain of the sting area, a promising sign.
Box jellyfish are one of the most deadly creatures on earth. “These are the most venomous animals in the world based upon fatalities over the last 30 years,” says Yanagihara, “All that venom then seeps into the bloodstream. With each beat of your heart it’s being pumped around your circulatory system,”she said.
Preventing Cell Leakage
Previous research has shown that venom that contains a certain chemical causes blood vessels to leak. The cause is due to ring-like structures attach themselves to the blood vessels.
It was found that potassium ions were seeping out of the blood vessels, into plasma. It was concluded that this drop in potassium prevented the heart from beating properly, ultimately causing death.
In previous experiments, researches have used zinc to prevent pores from assembling in bacteria. It was this same concept that was applied to the jellyfish anti-venom.
Findings suggested that zinc works by stopping potassium from leaking out of blood cells. If similar conclusions continue to be found by other researchers, this compound could soon be used as an oral or topical treatment for those unlucky enough to be stung by a jellyfish.
The Need For Treatment
Box jellyfish are known to kill upwards of 100 people each year. In areas such as Hawaii and Australia where box jellies are common, a treatment is more important than ever.
Despite being home to some of the most deadly creatures on earth, deaths caused by box jellyfish in Australia are much more common than deaths from other venomous creatures.
In recent years, box jellyfish have been expanding their territory substantially. More and more box jellyfish are showing up in areas around the Phillipines, and even as far northwest as Florida and California.