Beaches on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, located near Australia's city of Brisbane, Queensland, have been closed over reports of thousands of swimmers being stung by jellyfish-like creatures, known locally as bluebottles.
A sudden jellyfish invasion was responsible for stinging more than 3,500 people in the waters of popular beach areas in Australia over the weekend, officials said.
Across Queensland, but mostly in the southeast, 22,282 people sought treatment for bluebottle stings between December 1 and January 7, compared to 6831 in the same period previous year. The Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Service (AMSAS) states 22 people have been admitted to hospital in the state in recent weeks with suspected Irukandji jellyfish stings, which is well above the ten-year average.
No fatalities have been confirmed and for most people the stings are harmless - albeit painful - but they can cause problems for those with allergies, as well as the young and the elderly. Several of those stung suffered anaphylactic shock.
Most of the encounters happened in the popular Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions.
"The numbers I have seen published are 25,000 to 45,000 per year for the whole of Australia", Dr Gershwin said.
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