Grandfather, 58, dies after being stung by swarm of jellyfish in South Africa

Anaphylactic shock: Roland Singh died after being sting by a swarm of Portuguese Man o' War in South Africa

Anaphylactic shock: Roland Singh died after being sting by a swarm of Portuguese Man o' War in South Africa

A grandfather has died after being stung by a swarm of Portuguese Man o' Wars in South Africa.

Roland Singh, 58, collapsed after suffering severe anaphylactic shock when he was stung by the jellyfish-like creatures on Saturday as he swam with his granddaughter in the sea near Cape Town.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate the South African but he was declared dead at the scene.

Cape Town emergency spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said it was extremely rare for humans to be killed by the floating creatures, which are known in South Africa as Blue Bottles.

But he added: 'It is believed that the man suffered severe anaphylactic shock as a result of the sting by the blue bottle jellyfish.

'He was swimming with his friend at the beach when they realised they had been stung.

'They tried to come out of the water however the man found himself in distress.

'His friend recovered him from the water with the assistance of the lifeguards.

'Upon recovery the lifeguards initiated CPR until the arrival of the emergency services.

'The paramedics attempted to revive the man however their attempts were unsuccessful.'

Mr Singh's family spoke about the tragedy to the Cape Times newspaper.

His future son-in-law Angus Petersen told how he was swimming just a few metres away from the grandfather off Cape Town's Strand beach when he hear Mr Singh screaming for help.

He said: 'He was swimming and playing in the shallow side with his two-year-old granddaughter.

'The next thing I heard was his son screaming to me to come and help.' Mr Petersen said he was also stung by Portuguese Man o' Wars as he tried to help his stricken relative.

He added: 'I tried to resuscitate him while they were waiting for the paramedics to arrive, but he just wasn't responding.

Deadly sting: But human deaths from Portuguese Man o' War are rare, according to statistics (file pic)

Deadly sting: But human deaths from Portuguese Man o' War are rare, according to statistics (file pic)

'While I was running towards them, I felt a sharp sting on my right leg, which is still swollen at the moment.'

The Cape Times reported that at the time of the tragedy Mr Singh had been enjoying a day out on the beach after moving to Cape Town four months ago from South Africa's capital Pretoria.

Mr Petersen said the family was still in shock over the tragedy, and added: 'We still can't believe what happened. It is very difficult right now.'

Portuguese Man o' Wars are jellyfish-like invertebrates which often appear in the waters around the coastline of South Africa.

The creatures are classified as siphonophores and actually comprise several organisms which form a gas-filled float above several long blue stinging tentacles.

The animals use wind power to navigate around the oceans and can be blown as part of a swarm towards the shore in strong gales.

Bathers are warned to watch out for the creatures, which can arrive on beaches in their thousands and are capable of delivering a sting even when washed up dead.

The animals' venom is powerful enough to kill small sea mammals or fish and cause significant pain and discomfort to humans.

Mr Solomons-Johannes said human fatalities were rare but added that stings could cause respiratory or cardiac problems leading to death.

He said: 'When they in contact with humans, they react in exactly the same way as they would when faced with danger, and they sting bathers.

'Blue bottle jellyfish stings are known to be extremely painful. The sting can cause an extremely painful rash which doesn't subside for at least an hour after the sting. 

'While the sting in itself does not cause any major effects in the human body, a sensitive individual who is prone to allergies can have an extreme reaction to the toxins in the blue bottle's venom. 

'An allergic reaction can lead to fever, heart and lung failure and may even lead to death, even though it is extremely rare.'

Portuguese Man o' War can be found across the world but tend to be more common within warmer seas, including areas around South Africa, Australia and the Pacific region.

Last year experts warned global warming could cause an increase in the number of the poisonous creatures in the waters around Britain.

DEADLY PORTUGUESE MAN O' WAR

Portuguese man of war

The Portuguese Man o' War, otherwise known as physalia physalis, lives at the surface of the ocean. Because it is unable to propel itself, it travels with the current and tides. It is most commonly found in warm water seas, particularly the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans and in the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream.

Worryingly, in the last two years they appear to have headed for chillier climes with some spotted around Cornwall and Pembrokeshire in the UK.

Despite the fact that it looks like a jellyfish - which is not a single creature - it is actually a siphonophore, a colonial organism made up of many minute individuals called zooids.

In Australia, the Portuguese Man o' War is responsible for up to 10,000 human stings each summer.

Their sting contains venom-filled nematocysts in the tentacles which can paralyse small fish and other prey. Its tentacles can even sting when the Man o' War is dead, as often is the case when it is washed up on beaches.

Humans often experience severe pain when stung by a Man o' War are can be left with whip-like, red welts on the skin that normally last two or three days after the initial sting. Death is said to be rare and occurs when the venom travels to the lymph nodes, causing intense pain and an allergic reaction resulting in fever, shock, and interference with heart and lung function.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE STUNG

1) Pick off any visible tentacles with a gloved hand, stick, or anything handy, being careful to avoid further injury.

2) Rinse the area liberally with seawater or fresh water to remove any tentacles stuck to the skin. This can be from a spray bottle or in a beach shower. Do not apply vinegar. A study shows that vinegar in these stings sometimes makes the sting worse.

3) Apply ice for pain control.

4) Irrigate exposed eyes with copious amounts of room temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes. If vision blurs, or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or are light sensitive after irrigating, see a doctor.


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