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THE OUTDOORS DIGEST

A stinging counterattack

June 01, 2004|Gary Polakovic

First came sunblock. Now scientists at Stanford University are touting jellyfish block to save human flesh.

They say they have developed a cream that prevents jellyfish strings, which can cause burning, swelling and blisters. Two dozen brave souls smeared their arms with a special cream before researchers exposed them to sea nettles borrowed from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The arm with the ointment showed no stings; the other arm, with sunscreen only, was injured. The cream proved slightly less effective against the more potent box jellyfish.

"It didn't completely inhibit the stings, but it came pretty darn close," says Dr. Alexa Kimball, assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford. "This certainly suggests the cream is going to help. Even if it doesn't offer 100% protection, I would rather have some protection over none."

Eventually, the cream will be offered as an over-the-counter product. The study appears in this month's issue of the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine.

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-- Gary Polakovic

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