SYDNEY, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- At least 19 people in Australia's Queensland state have suffered from suspected stings by one of the world's most venomous jellyfish and taken to hospital in the beachgoing season, almost double the decade's average, with marine safety groups and researchers warning of warmer weather helping to fuel more attacks.
Eight of the victims were airlifted from the Fraser Island tourist spot off the state's southeast in the past two weeks alone after being stung by the Irukandji, the ABC news channel quoted the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services ocean organization as saying on Saturday.
"Certainly it has been really hot, and I think that may have something to do with it," the group's director Lisa Gershwin said.
"For people who have had Irukandji syndrome, it's pretty bad. Most people make a full and complete recovery, a fraction require life support, some end up with permanent heart damage or permanent neurological damage," she said.
Calm and warm conditions at Fraser Island amid summer in the Southern Hemisphere have made it a hot spot for the venomous Irukandji, which is also one of the world's smallest jellyfish at about the size of a thumb, the channel quoted James Cook University toxinologist Jamie Seymour as saying.
"We've certainly seen this over the years that the numbers of jellyfish that we're getting down there seems to be increasing, and the length of time they're down there seems to be increasing," he said.
The more common bluebottle jellyfish have also been washing up on Queensland beaches this season, with more than 18,000 stings recorded in the state since last month compared to over 6,000 for the same period year-on-year, the channel reported.