Why should the rescuer pick off tentacles from the victim following a jellyfish envenomation?

It is recommended in ARC guideline 8.9.6 to pick off adherent tentacles from the victim. Although most of the tentacle stinging cells are likely to have already fired, by removing the tentacles, any unfired nematocysts are also removed. This may lessen the venom load to the patient and this reduction may make a difference to the victim’s outcome.

Is it harmful to the rescuer to touch the tentacles while removing them from the victim?

Although most of the nematocysts (stinging cells) will have fired, the small number of remaining unfired cells could cause a mild prickling sensation to be felt by the rescuer. This will not be harmful to the rescuer. Wearing gloves is known to afford protection when picking of the adherent tentacles from the victim.

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Category: Guidelines

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