Israeli boy, 9, dies in Thailand after jellyfish sting

Toxin believed to have come from the ultra-venomous box jellyfish; some reports say boy didn’t receive immediate first aid

Illustrative: Researchers from University of Haifa's Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences examine a huge swarm of jellyfish appeared off Haifa's coast. (Hagai Nativ/University of Haifa)
Illustrative: Researchers from University of Haifa's Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences examine a huge swarm of jellyfish appeared off Haifa's coast. (Hagai Nativ/University of Haifa)

A 9-year-old Israeli boy living in Thailand died after being stung by a venomous jellyfish on Saturday, Hebrew media reported on Sunday, citing Thai media.

According to the reports, the boy and his family have lived for several years on the Ko Pha Ngan island in southeast Thailand.

On Saturday, the family was spending time at the beach when the boy was stung by a jellyfish, believed to be a poisonous box jellyfish.

Medical personnel administered first aid to the boy, according to the Ynet news site, but could not act in time to counteract the venom from the jellyfish bite.

However, the Kan public broadcaster reported that the boy did not receive immediate first aid, and he was pronounced dead in a local hospital.

The Israeli Embassy in Thailand was reportedly in contact with the boy’s father.

“This is a horrible story,” an Israeli who has lived on the island for five years told the Walla news website.

The man, identified in the report only by the Hebrew letter “Nun,” said that the danger of jellyfish is well-known and that Thai beaches carry warning signs. In addition, on the beach where the deadly sting happened, there is a fenced-off area on the seashore that is intended to provide a safe space for bathers, however many ignore it as it is inconvenient to use and not located at the popular part of the beach.

According to Nun, who was not there when the incident happened, the boy had entered the water outside of the gated area.

Nun said that several Israeli families had gathered on the beach as was their custom every Saturday, along with many others.

He heard from others that the boy had been playing for some time in shallow water along with other youngsters when he suddenly ran screaming from the water, saying he had been stung. Though he was given immediate first aid he swiftly passed out and was taken to a hospital fifteen minutes away.

Nun said the entire local expatriate Israeli community living on the island is “depressed” by what happened.

“It doesn’t seem to me that anyone of the Israelis will let a child enter the water” in the coming years he said. “It will take time until they calm down.”

The death had made news in Thailand, Nun said, where incidents of stings are known to happen each year between July and October when there are high numbers of jellyfish in the water, though the stings are not always fatal.

The Thai natural resources and environment minister expressed his regret and condolences to the family, Walla reported. The minister also ordered relevant authorities to investigate the incident and to prepare suitable first aid equipment in tourist areas where there are stinging jellyfish, as well as to raise awareness among tourists of the danger.

The jellyfish was identified as an Australian box jelly, one of the most venomous creatures in the world, and that can kill an untreated adult victim in minutes, Walla said.

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