Officials Warn of Portuguese Man-of-War Dangers at South Florida Beaches

Strong winds and currents are expected to bring man-o-war to South Florida beaches in the coming days

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With spring break in full effect on South Florida beaches, officials are warning of the presence of Portuguese man-of-war.  

Man-of-war is a group of animals related to jellyfish with tentacles that are barbed. Its sting can typically cause painful welts lasting for days. In some cases, the sting can cause an allergic reaction and in rare cases, heart failure.

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Portrait of a Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis), Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, (Photo by Wild Horizons/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Strong winds and currents are expected to bring man-o-war to South Florida beaches in the coming days.

If you see a man-of-war at the beach do not touch it.

If your skin does come into contact with one, do not use your hand to remove it. Experts recommend using an object to scrape it from your skin.

Leanne Martinez's Portuguese man-of-war stings on arm (left) and hand after 5 days (right)

Miami native Leanne Martinez went to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park with her children and friends on Tuesday.

"I didn't take the warning that seriously," said Martinez. "I thought the Portuguese man-of-war sting would be similar to a jellyfish and if we went in the water, we would be able to see them and stay away."

Instead, Martinez said she experienced an extremely painful sting before even seeing the man-of-war. Martinez said she only saw the man-of-war once it had wrapped its tentacles around her arm, but it was already too late.

"The pain was so strong, I thought I would pass out. I would rate the pain close to giving birth," said Martinez.

If you experience a man-of-war sting, you can neutralize the venom by rinsing it with salt water and applying vinegar. Seek medical help if you have a severe reaction.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue lifeguards will be at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne on Friday to warn beachgoers of the dangers associated with coming into contact with one.

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