IUBio

Jellyfishes and Paralysis

r norman rsnorman_ at _comcast.net
Mon Jun 2 19:08:15 EST 2003


On 2 Jun 2003 16:04:37 -0700, shock-trauma at excite.com (Paranormal)
wrote:

>r norman <rsnorman_ at _comcast.net> wrote in message news:<4io9dv8baik36i5t544esltjsfbdtmfodb at 4ax.com>...
>> On 28 May 2003 08:51:46 -0700, shock-trauma at excite.com (Paranormal)
>> wrote:
>> 
>> >Hi:
>> >
>> >I am on the hunt for neurotoxic jellyfishes.
>> >
>> >What types of jellyfishes can paralyze human beings by stinging them
>> >with their seemingly silky curtains of tentacle threads?
>> 
>> Try searching for "toxic jellyfish" in Google.
>
>No fun. None of them were neurotoxic. Just painfully irritating to the
>skin and mucous membranes.
>
>If jellyfish can paralyze sharks and other vertebrates then they
>should be able to just as much to the human nervous system.
>
>Skin irritation is just plain boring.
>
>Before reading, I expected something much more creative -- like a
>frightening paralysis resembling that of REM sleep along w/ grossly
>clammy skin and sickening itching sensations. In addition, the
>symptoms spreading along the body as the poison travels into nerve
>cells via the blooodstream.

It really doesn't take a lot of effort to find a toxic one.  Just
search, for example, "jellyfish paralysis".  You quickly get the Box
Jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri.

Frankly, I think you have been watching too many Grade B movies. Why
do you think that jellyfish routinely paralyze sharks?  They do often
eat small fish, but ordinarily do not feed on large animals.  And why
do you think that neurotoxins could not cause painful irritation to
the skin and mucous membranes?  The symptoms depend on what tissue is
exposed most strongly.  The nematocysts do not penetrate very deep, so
the toxin is highly concentrated in the skin.  Only if sufficient
material gets into the capillary circulation can it distribute and
have a systemic effect, and then the effect is strongly diluted in any
very large animal.  In a small animal with a much larger surface area
to volume ratio, and which can be stung over a much larger fraction of
its body surface, it is far easier to accumulate a large systemic
dose.






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