Tiny jellyfish stinging at Auckland beaches

  • 14/01/2015

The scourge of summer is upon us.

For starters, a tiny jellyfish is causing big problems for beachgoers at Auckland's eastern beaches. Swimmers have been covered with itchy, sore rashes after being stung by the microscopic creatures.

A nasty rash is keeping nine-year-old Sophia Scanlan awake at night.

"It's really sore if you wear tight clothes and it gets really itchy," says Sophia.

What was meant to be a cool-off at Eastern Beach yesterday has put Sophia off swimming for a while.

"She was completely bitten where her tog area was, inside her togs, on her stomach, on her buttock," says mother Sarah Scanlan.

The painful marks were left by tiny jellyfish. They can't be seen with the naked eye – only under a microscope.

Despite their size, they have got a nasty sting.

"The organism stings once you get out of the water and they're trapped within the swimming costume and the skin," says Medical Officer of Health Dr Cathy Pikholz. "When they're trapped they release the toxin, which causes the itch."

It is an itch that many in the area are suffering from, and most of the victims are children.

"Children have thinner skin than adults," says Dr Pikholz. "That's why they're more affected."

Local pharmacies are so busy some are running low on antihistamine treatments, and demand for help to soothe the bites could soon increase.

"We can't assume that it isn't happening at other beaches," says Dr Pikholz. "It can occur at any beach in the Hauraki Gulf."

That's because the jellyfish thrive in warm weather and move with onshore winds.

The only way to guarantee not getting bitten is to stay out of the water altogether, but that might be pretty tough on a hot, sunny day. So if you're going in avoid baggy togs, including rash tops.

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source: newshub archive