As every year around July, swarms of jellyfish make their way to the shores of Israel, disappointing tourist and local bathers.
In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of jellyfish reaching the coasts of Israel. The jellyfish's poison burn the skin of many bathers, and some of them require a medical treatment.
The jellyfish (AKA Medusa) spreads three types of poison cells. Contact with these poison cells causes the release of a 'needle' like tissue and the release of toxic substances into the skin.
These cells continue to release the poison even after they leave the jellyfish's body. Many swimmers who avoided a direct encounter with a jellyfish can still feel the phenomenon of "burning water". The water is full with small particles of the jellyfish's arms, spreading venom cells that make the water stinging.
What do you do if you burn?
The best way to defend yourself is simply avoid going into the water. Every day Israel's weather forecasters updates the public about the amount of jellyfish at Israel's coastline. Usually, by August, the amount decrease substantially. If you know about a jellyfish warning, do not enter the water!
The jellyfish's burning sensation is felt after a contact of the skin with the poisonous jellyfish cells. If the skin gets in a direct contact with the jellyfish itself, you can get a severe burn that will a few weeks to heal!
Although the burn of the 'Israeli' jellyfish is usually not dangerous, it can be very unpleasant and to affect the rest of the summer vacation.
If you get burned, you should first get out of the water and wash the place of burning with salt water. Do not rinse the burn with fresh water, as it will accelerate the breakage of the poisonous cells and will worsen the burn.
After washing it with salty water, you should gently wash the place of burning with white vinegar. Every lifeguard station in Israel holds a bottle of vinegar just for these cases. The vinegar neutralize the venom cells of the jellyfish and stops their action.
If the burn is deep, it should be treated just like any other burn (e.g. heat burn). Therefore, you should get checked by a physician. The treatment usually include the applying of an antibiotic cream, and in severe cases, a course of oral antibiotics. Medical follow-up is often needed to ensure that the area heals well with no secondary infection.