Possible to build tolerance to lethal jellyfish toxins?

ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
edited February 2014 in General Discussion
Similar to Rasputin's rumored tolerance to cyanide by ingesting small amounts of the poison, or taking allergy shots to build tolerance to seasonal allergies, would be possible to build a tolerance to Box or Man O War toxin by ingesting, or injecting small amounts into the human body in the months leading up to a swim in a renowned jellyfish habitat?

www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

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  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 2014
    Incidentally, a similar process is reputed to work among hikers of the poison oak infested trails of the California backcountry.
  • Not possible, I should know by now. However I've always wondered if each jellyfish has a higher level of potency because sometimes when I get stung it doesn't hurt as much as others. But maybe this is to do with the temperature of my skin when I'm stung
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    Thank you @niek for the link to a past discussion - very useful information indeed!

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    Where's the Jellyfish Doctor when you need her? @AngelYanagihara

    ;)

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    gnome, why would skin temp be a factor?
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    I sent this post link to Ron Adley thinking he'd have some info to add.
    He couldn't login for some reason, so he sent me the following to post:

    "It is highly unlikely a "tolerance" effect can be had by the same principles suggested here...there are 61 known proteins identified, including toxins and proteins important for nematocyte development and nematocyst formation (nematogenesis). The most abundant toxins identified were isoforms of a taxonomically restricted family of potent cnidarian proteins. These toxins are associated with cytolytic, nociceptive, inflammatory, dermonecrotic and lethal properties and expansion of this important protein family goes some way to explaining the destructive and potentially fatal effects of C. fleckeri venom. Venom proteins and their post-translational modifications (PTMs) were further characterized using toxin-specific antibodies and phosphoprotein/glycoprotein-specific stains. Results indicated that glycosylation is a common PTM of the toxin family while a lack of cross-reactivity by toxin-specific antibodies infers there is significant divergence in structure and possibly function among family members. This study provides insight into the depth and diversity of protein toxins produced by harmful box jellyfish and represents the first description of a cubozoan jellyfish venom proteome.
    Here's the abstract:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0047866
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    I think we should "request" that one our charter members (how about it Evan?) be a "test case" to find out first hand if ingesting box jellies, sea wasps, man o war et al help to build tolerance...consider this to be a very noble cause for the open water swimming community....I seem to recall that a swimmer ingested a box jellie while swimming between two Hawaiian islands...anyone remember that one...think I have an article someplace!!!

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Sharko, I think Darren already volunteered! We all knew he was tough, but this is really above & beyond!
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    When I lived in South Florida I was accustomed to getting zapped by Cassiopeia and Box jellies, and Portuguese man-o-war. I never got used to them. Man-o-War stings messed me up on several occasions and one time was bad enough to hit the ER. I got nailed 30 minutes into the 1995 Atlantic City 37K by a Lion's Mane jelly. It hit me right in my face. I finally got my feeling there several hours later.

    Stay out of the ocean if there's an on-shore wind!
  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    @swimmer25k, if I understand correctly, on-shore wind means it is coming toward the shore from the water, yes? Why?

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    onshore wind = wind blowing from sea ONto shore
    offshore wind = wind blowing from shore out to sea

    Portuguese man o' war are distinguished by their "sail" that floats above the water. Onshore winds tend to blow them close to shore, and often onto the sand.

    image
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Oh great. Pictures. As if my nightmares aren't vivid enough already.
    dpm50
  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    pretty, pretty death.

    Thanks @evmo. I guess I'd know these sorts of things if I lived as close to the ocean as you. #jealous

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • Let's not forget that the lions mane jellyfish is the largest creature on earth. Only 5 months until they're home =(
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    edited February 2014
    @evmo - With the swim I am planning, I would need to be eating eggs, toast and a side of Man O War for breakfast everyday! In all seriousness, I would be glad to partake in an experiment if there was a chance it could benefit me, or swimmers in general for those swimming in dangerous, jelly-strewn waters around the world. After taking three Man O Wars, including one right to the face and neck, during the Molokai Channel, I want more than anything to find some way to build a tolerance to these beautiful creatures.
    @gnome4766 - My experience with Lion's Mane is to treat them immediately after exiting the water. I was stubborn prior to my North Channel swim, and left the water one day (after several stings) and didn't treat them properly. Let's just say my day ended at the hospital in Ulster because I was concerned about my allergic reaction.

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • How do you go about treating a sting from a lion's mane? I've tried sting spray, which left it worse. Potassium nitrate, which made no notable difference either. I always found keeping it cool with salt water helps relieve the pain but haven't found a cure yet.
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    @gnome4766 - I was instructed to use different remedies:
    1. Sprinkle meat tenderizer over the infected area, and scrape with credit card;
    2. Dose with malt vinegar;
    3. Dose with salt water to clense.
    -Basically, avoid a warm shower with freshwater as that reactivates the 'firing' of the toxins until a remedy is used. Since I chose to forego the remedy the one day, the toxins were firing on me all night = fun times. From that day forward, I had a make-shift First Aid bag with plenty of credit cards, meat tenderizer and malt vinegar...

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • I see, I never knew I had to scrape with a credit card. Will try next time. Thanks
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    I read a reaserach study last year that concluded that hot water (salt, not fresh as Darren stated) is clearly the best immediate remedy to stopping the "firing" of the nematocysts.
    (Incidentally the same as for sting ray stings).

    Then, the "scraping" off is to help prevent the bursting of nematocysts from any remaining tenticle parts.
    Credit card type is sufficient, but better to use sharper edge tool.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Some jellies are known to prefer Mastercard.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    evmo said:

    onshore wind = wind blowing from sea ONto shore
    offshore wind = wind blowing from shore out to sea

    Portuguese man o' war are distinguished by their "sail" that floats above the water. Onshore winds tend to blow them close to shore, and often onto the sand.

    image

    I just broke out in huge welts from seeing your picture of that lovely blue-bag.

    Crazy thing about them is that the tentacles can be super-long and nowhere near the float. They also frequently break off and float around waiting to ruin your day.

    Mike,
    On-shore winds in SOFLA are out if the east and bring them in towards shore. The waves will deposit them on the beach. When the tide goes out they're left up there for visiting tourists to play with.

    Cassiopeia's also suck. Winter months are when they show up with their Portuguese cousins. Their (or Thimble jellies) little larvae will crawl into the pores of your skin, hang out for a day or so and then wake up by shooting little spines into you. Those are our sea-lice. The only successful battle I've ever had with them was when I dunked a whole bottle of rubbing alcohol on me, or was it 100 mg of Benadryl?
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