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Woman issues warning to holidaygoers after surviving life-threatening jellyfish attack in Thailand


A Queensland woman has issued a warning to holidaygoers after enduring a horrific attack that left her hospitalised for more than a month.

Zoe Cahill, 23, was left in agony after an underwater encounter while swimming near the shore of Zen Beach on the island of Ko Pha Ngan while holidaying in Thailand in October.

Given her injuries, it was almost certain she was stung by a box jellyfish.

“I thought I saw what looked like little bits of plastic in the ocean and within seconds this jellyfish stung me,” she told 9news.com.au.

Zoe Cahill, 23, claims she was stung by a boxjellyfish while swimming near the shore of Zen Beach on the island Ko Pha Ngan. (Supplied)

“It literally felt like electricity had shot through my body.”

The 23-year-old had left Bedesseurt for her first solo trip to South-east Asia, where she had spent her time teaching yoga and travelling between Bali and Thailand.

She said had been swimming around Ko Pha Ngan for a few months without a problem.

But on that particular day, she was swimming about 50 metres from the shore when “all of a sudden my body just felt like it was vibrating”.

Cahill has been documenting her Jellyfish stings on her Instagram @Zoe_Cahill. (Supplied)
Due to the excruciating pain Zoe said she was unable to walk for two weeks. (Supplied)

“The adrenaline kicked in, although my memory is still patchy, I actually managed to get myself back to shore,” Cahill said.

From what she has been told by bystanders, she managed to make her way back before collapsing and turning blue.

She recalled a group of about 15 people rush to her aid, dousing her with bottles of vinegar while a nurse performed CPR.

Box jellyfish are found in warm coastal waters around the world.
Box jellyfish are found in warm coastal waters around the world. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cahill believes the amount of vinegar poured onto her had helped stop her from deteriorating further.

“I was crying I was screaming, I was just so confused as to what was happening,” Cahill said.

Zoe was teaching yoga in Southeast Asia when she was stung. (Supplied)

She was rushed to the local hospital in Ko Pha Ngan where a friend was able to meet her.

After undergoing testing, doctors told her she would need to be transported by emergency speed boat to the nearby island of Ko Samui.

The doctor told my friend, ‘she needs an antihistamine as her white blood cells are increasing rapidly and we don’t have the resources to treat her’, she said.

She was rushed to the local hospital in Ko Pha Ngan where a friend was able to meet her. (Supplied)

At the next island, she was seen by a marine toxin specialist from Bangkok, but she was still unsure of what exactly was going on due to the language barrier.

She said she remained in hospital for over a month, unable to walk for two weeks due to her extensive stings.

An intricate web of scarring is still visible on her body and she has been documenting her recovery on her Instagram account.

“I’m scarred all over my body, everywhere you look there’s a mark,” she said.

“But I’m grateful to be here today.”

She has since returned home and is now hoping to raise awareness about the dangers of jellyfish attacks, particularly as temperatures become unseasonably warmer across the country.

“I saw the stories on Fraser Island (K’gari) – it really sparked my attention,” she said, referring to the spike in Irukandji stings off the Queensland coast in recent weeks.

“I don’t think many people are aware.

“I had no idea these types of jellyfish were so close to the island.”





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