The worst 48 hours: a rash of jellyfish stings spread on the coast

Aquatic flags indicate the danger of jellyfish on Myrtle Beach. | Stephanie Robusto
Aquatic flags indicate the danger of jellyfish on Myrtle Beach. | Stephanie Robusto

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Just as the weather clears and beach goers hit the sand for the last time before school starts, a swarm of jellyfish are ruining those last summer days.

It is the worst 48 hours of the season for jellyfish stings and lifeguards believe the threat isn't over yet.

"We may have a problem until we get some rough water and strong currents to knock them out of here," explained Wesley Cox with Lack's Beach Service. His lifeguards continue to monitor the marine life with blue flags on lifeguard stands, signifying an aquatic hazard.

"On Sunday, it was one right after another, after another. We were doing everything we could to tell people it was extremely bad," said Cox.

It didn't take long for beach goers to notice. If they didn't see the flags, they heard the yells from other people running from the surf after being stung.

"They came in with the waves. I saw a little girl as I was walking to the pier just screaming, and she got stung bad," recalled Beverly Legory. Shortly after, Legory was stung.

"We were in the water jumping waves, having fun, and all of a sudden I just felt burning," she described the moment she was touched by a tentacle. However, she didn't know what it was at first.

"My husband said "You're ok, you probably scratched yourself on shells, But I started welting," said Legory.

Twenty-four hours later, welts still mark her legs from the jellyfish sting.

"It was a burning sensation all over, it felt horrible," she recalled.

The current is pushing the swarm of jellyfish to the shore. The warm water isn't helping.

"They've found the warmer the waters are, the more potent the stings are," said Cox.

Cox explained people react differently to jellyfish stings, much like people react differently to bee stings. However, the treatment is usually the same: vinegar.

"It is what the lifeguards have and if you go to the emergency room they'll put you in a bath of distilled vinegar," said Cox.

He also warns that if you see a jellyfish on the sand, you can still get stung. Even when a jellyfish becomes beached, the sting cells in the tentacles are active for several hours.

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