LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, FLA. (WSVN) - A day at a South Florida beach ended in pain and a trip to the hospital for a woman who said she was stung by a man o’ war.
Speaking with 7News on Wednesday, Hannah Almanzar said she was swimming off Lauderdale-by-the-Sea when it happened.
“I felt something like sting me, and at first I was, like, maybe it was my bathing suit,” she said.
Almanzar said the stinging sensation continued to spread across her body.
“It was spreading all over my chest to a point where it was at my heart, where I felt like I couldn’t even breathe,” she said.
Almanzar said she rushed out of the water only to find a rash getting worse by the second.
She said her parents took her straight to the hospital.
“They gave me a little numbing gel sort of thing to put on top of it, and then they gave me a shot in my leg,” she said. “It was a shot of intense Advil, I think is what it was.”
Almanzar learned she was stung by a Portuguese man o’ war.
The vibrantly colored creature has recently been spotted on Volusia County beaches by some locals.
“If you hear me yell, you know that I’ve gotten got stung,” said Chad Truxall, executive director of the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach.
Truxall said he has come into contact with the gas-filled creatures many times.
“Nothing that I’ve ever been stung by in Florida has hurt as much as a man o’ war,” he said.
Even so, Truxall said, Portuguese man o’ war are not to be feared, but more to be aware of them. He said their tentacles can reach up to 100 feet and stay charged even after they have washed ashore.
If you are stung, Truxall said, hot water can help alleviate the pain.
“The immediate thing is don’t touch it with your hand. Actually, use something else, even if it’s stick or a shell to try to scrape the tentacle off, because it’s still firing as you’re agitating it,” he said.
Portuguese man o’ war float across the surface of the ocean and are moved purely by the wind. Local lifeguards will be able to tell beachgoers whether they’ve been spotted along the beach.
“They can let you know what to do to be safe for the day, they can let you know where the rip currents are, they can let you know if we’re having jellyfish or man o’ war washing up on the beach for the day,” said Deputy Chief Tammy Malphurs of Volusia County Beach Safety.
“I think I’m going to be out of the water for a while,” said Almanzar. “I’m going to visit my parents when school’s out. I’m probably not going to be going to the beach.”
If you see a purple flag flying on the beach, it could mean man o’ war or other dangerous marine life have been spotted in the area.
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