Portuguese man o’ wars spotted on Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island, S.C. (WCIV) — The Town of Sullivan's Island is warning swimmers that there have been a number of calls about Portuguese Man O' War sightings along the shore.

"Its long venomous tentacles can inflict a painful stings to swimmers or even beach walkers," wrote Andy Benke, town administrator, in a statement Tuesday. "Stings will generally cause red welts on the skin that can last up to three days often resulting in severe dermatitis." Pain can last up to three hours.

While there have been no reports of stings, several man o' war have been identified on the beach, Benke said.

The Portuguese man o' war is a marine hydrozoan of the Physaliidae family commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean.

The man o' war lives on the ocean surface and has no means of propulsion. Wind and tide conditions often push them close to the beach or cause them to wash ashore.

In extreme cases, the venom from the Portuguese Man O' War can travel to the lymph nodes and case symptoms that mimic an allergic reaction such as swelling of the larynx, airway blockage or cardiac distress.

If stung, the suggested remedy is to rinse immediately with salt water to wash away any microscopic nematrocysts. In the event of a severe reaction, dial 9-1-1 immediately.

"In the coming weeks, beach visitors should exercise caution in the ocean and on the beach to avoid contact with the Portuguese man'o war," Benke states.

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