Envenomation, first aid and critical care of tropical jellyfish stings

Should jellyfish stings first aid be under question?

Grant ID: EMPG-205R22-2014

Project Summary

Queensland is currently recognised as the leader in the field of jellyfish envenoming treatment. Many of the treatments for jellyfish stings are not evidence based and data is emerging that suggests that some of the treatments may do more harm to jellyfish sting victims than good.
This project will investigate three major areas of present contention:
• Is vinegar a suitable first aid for jellyfish stings?
• Can the survival rate of victims stung by big box jellyfish be increased by simply continuing CPR for extended periods?
• Can readily available and used drugs be the answer to the ever-increasing Irukandji Syndrome?


The team published preliminary data from their study, in which they found that treating the discharged stinging organelles of C. fleckeri (Box jelly fish) with vinegar could increase venom release by nearly 70%.

Leveraged Funds

- $216,000 In-Kind Support


Welfare P., Little M., Pereira P., Seymour J., "An in-vitro examination of the effect of vinegar on discharged nematocysts of Chironex fleckeri", 'Diving Hyperb Med', 2014; 44: 30-34

Seymour J., "Are we using the correct first aid for jellyfish?", 'Med J Aust', 2017; 206 (6): 249-250 (https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2017/206/6/are-we-using-correct-first-aid-jellyfish)



Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
A/Prof Mark Little

Co Investigators:
A/Prof Peter Pereira
A/Prof Jamie Seymour

Associate Investigators:
Dr Annabel Somerville
Dr Digby Green
Dr Pip Welfare


Collaborating Institutions


  • The Nature of Science - Irukandji Jellyfish
  • The Nature of Science - Box Jellyfish

  • Media

  • ABC: Vinegar makes box jellyfish stings worse, Australian researchers say
  • CONTACT US +61 7 3720 5700 info@emfoundation.org.au Suite 1B, Terraces, 19 Lang Parade, Milton Qld 4064