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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 11:11 GMT
Briton killed by tiny jellyfish
Bondi Beach
Scores of bathers are stung each year by jellyfish
A British tourist has died after being stung by a tiny jellyfish off Hamilton Island in northern Australia.

Richard Jordan, 58, from Driffield, east Yorkshire, is believed to be the first person to die from a sting from an Irukandji.

Mr Jordan suffered a brain haemorrhage after he came into contact with the almost invisible, peanut-sized jellyfish on Wednesday.

He was airlifted from the island for treatment on the mainland after falling into a coma, but died on Thursday

The Irukandji jellyfish
Irukandji jellyfish: the size of a peanut but its sting can be fatal

The death is the first confirmed case in Australia, but scientists say this has been the worst season for jellyfish in several years and believe it could be behind many unexplained fatalities.

Scores of people are stung by the jellyfish in northern Australia every year and the effects usually include increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Other symptoms include backache, muscle pains, chest and abdominal pains, headache, nausea, vomiting and sweating.

Doctors say venom from the jellyfish may have triggered a pre-existing medical condition in Mr Jordan

It is thought the sting could have aggravated the victim's previous ill health and left him vulnerable to the toxin.

Scientists are working to find an antidote to the Irukandji's poison, but their efforts have been hampered because so few of the creatures have ever been caught.

Translucent Irukandji jellyfish are a tiny relative of the lethal box jellyfish which has killed about 65 people in Australia over the past 50 years.

Australia has hundreds of types of jellyfish but only one species of box jellyfish, the chironex fleckeri, is lethal.

It is known to be the most deadly jellyfish in the world.

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See also:

25 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Shark frenzy maddens minister
25 Jun 01 | Scotland
Jellyfish stings diver
05 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia: Deadly paradise
21 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Sting relief for summer swimmers
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