Significance to humans

The presence of "stinger-resistant enclosures" on beaches in northern Queensland, Australia, is indicative of the impact that cubozoans can have on humans. Although deaths are reported almost every year from encounters with C. fleckeri, the overall impact of cubozoans is much greater as stings are not always reported. Carukia barnesi is now recognized as the cause of "Irukandji syndrome," which results in severe backache, muscle pains, chest and abdominal pains, headache, localized sweating, and piloerection, as well as nausea and reduced urine output. There is a box jelly antivenom that binds to both C. fleckeri and C. barnesi, and vinegar can inhibit unfired nematocysts from firing (although it stimulates nematocyst firing with other cnidarians).

1. Irukandji (Carukia barnesi); 2. Tripedalia cystophora; 3. Sea wasp (Chironex fleckeri). (Illustration by John Megahan)

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