Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

'World's best job' man stung by tiny, lethal jellyfish

Irukandji jellyfish
The Irukandji jellyfish is so minuscule it is almost invisible to the naked eye

The man who landed what was dubbed "the best job in the world" as the caretaker on a tropical island off Australia has been stung by a lethal jellyfish.

Briton Ben Southall, who beat 34,000 applicants to secure the position, was stung during his last week in the job.

The culprit was the peanut-sized Irukandji jellyfish, whose venomous sting can be lethal.

In his blog, which he keeps as part of his job, he describes the incident as "a little sting on the beach".

But it was his progressive symptoms of fever, headache, lower back pain, chest tightness and high blood pressure that led doctors to diagnose the sting.

"I thought I'd done particularly well at avoiding any contact with any of the dangerous critters that consider this part of the world their home," Mr Southall writes in the latest update to his online diary.

Stinger suit

"I've avoided being boxed by a kangaroo, nibbled by a shark and bitten by a spider or a snake - but then in my final few days on Hamilton Island I fell foul of a miniscule little creature known as an Irukandji," his blog continues.

Ben Southall (file image)
I really should have been wearing a full stinger suit
Ben Southall
Caretaker of Hamilton Island

The jellyfish - which struck as he descended from a jet-ski - is virtually invisible to the naked eye and can be deadly - in 2002 two tourists died after being stung.

It is so small it can pass through the nets that protect popular swimming spots in Queensland from larger jellyfish.

But Mr Southall - who has fully recovered after a dose of antibiotics and rest - admitted that he had been inadequately dressed for the excursion.

"It's not something to be messed around with. I really should have been wearing a full stinger suit, as is recommended at all beaches here this time of year," he said.

Mr Southall, 34, a charity fundraiser from Hampshire had to undergo a gruelling selection process to get the A$150,000 (£85,600; $134,000) role - including swimming, snorkelling and one-to-one interviews.

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