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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 2488-2503; doi:10.3390/ijerph110302488

Impact of Stinging Jellyfish Proliferations along South Italian Coasts: Human Health Hazards, Treatment and Social Costs

1,2,* , 1,2
1 Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), University of Salento, Lecce 73100, Italy 2 National InterUniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences (CoNISMa), Rome 00198, Italy 3 Local Health Authority of Lecce (ASL/LE), Lecce 73100, Italy 4 Institute of Marine Sciences, National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR), Genoa 16149, Italy
* Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 January 2014 / Revised: 9 February 2014 / Accepted: 12 February 2014 / Published: 27 February 2014
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Stinging jellyfish outbreaks represent a health hazard, causing contact dermatitis and systemic reactions. This study investigated the epidemiology, severity, and treatment protocols of jellyfish stings in a coastal area with high tourist development and frequent stinging jellyfish outbreaks of the central Mediterranean (Salento, Southern Italy), and the associated costs for the Italian National Health Service. In 2007–2011, 1,733 bathers (mostly children and females) sought medical assistance following jellyfish stings, the main cause of human pathologies due to contact with marine organisms. The majority of events were reported in the years 2007–2009, whereas the occurrence of cnidarian jellyfish outbreaks has been increasingly reported in the same area since summer 2010. Most symptoms were limited to local and cutaneous reactions; conversely, 8.7% of cases evoked complications, mainly due to allergic reactions. The main drugs used were corticosteroids, locally applied and systemic (46% and 43%, respectively), and with ammonia (74%) as the main non-pharmacological treatment. The estimated cost of jellyfish-related first-aid services along the Salento coastline over the 5-year period was approximately 400,000 Euros. Therefore the management of jellyfish outbreak phenomena need coordinated research efforts towards a better understanding of underlying ecological mechanisms, together with the adoption of effective prevention policy, mitigation strategies, and appropriate planning of health services at tourist hot spots.
Keywords: jellyfish blooms; sting epidemiology; treatment protocols; Mediterranean Sea jellyfish blooms; sting epidemiology; treatment protocols; Mediterranean Sea
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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De Donno, A.; Idolo, A.; Bagordo, F.; Grassi, T.; Leomanni, A.; Serio, F.; Guido, M.; Canitano, M.; Zampardi, S.; Boero, F.; Piraino, S. Impact of Stinging Jellyfish Proliferations along South Italian Coasts: Human Health Hazards, Treatment and Social Costs. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 2488-2503.

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