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article imageAustralian girl miraculously survives killer jellyfish sting

By Laura Trowbridge     Apr 28, 2010 in Health
A 10-year-old girl amazes everyone by surviving her encounter with the world's most venomous creature - a box jellyfish.
Rachael Shardlow was badly stung by the box jellyfish while swimming in the Calliope River in eastern Queensland state with her 13-year-old brother, Sam, last December. Her brother pulled her from the river with the jellyfish's tentacles still wrapped around her legs. Before she passed out she told Sam she could no longer see or breathe.
Zoology professor Jamie Seymour, from James Cook University, told ABC News: "When I first saw the pictures of the injuries I just went, 'you know to be honest, this kid should not be alive'. I mean they are horrific. Usually when you see people who have been stung by box jellyfish with that number of the tentacle contacts on their body, it's usually in a morgue."
According to Sky News the box jellyfish has 'long, trailing tentacles and is able to squeeze through even the smallest of nets as its main body is only the size of a fingernail.
The venom is so overpoweringly painful that victims often go into shock and drown or die of heart failure before reaching shore.
There is no effective antivenom for its sting, which attacks the heart, nervous system and skin, inducing shooting muscle pain, vomiting and a rapid rise in blood pressure.'
Rachael spent six weeks recovering in hospital before being released to go home. Her father said she is scarred and has short-term memory loss.
"We've noticed a small amount of short-term memory loss, like riding a pushbike to school and forgetting she's taken a pushbike. The greatest fear was actual brain damage [but] her cognitive skills and memory tests were all fine," Mr. Shardlow said.
Prof Seymour said: "I don't know of anybody in the entire literature where we've studied this where someone has had such an extensive sting that has survived. From our point of view, it's really useful information that you very seldom, if ever, get your hands on."
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