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" I learned about Zoanthid toxin the hard way...........I inhaled it and it has really taken it's toll.

I'm telling this story because I don't want anybody to have to go through what I did.....and still am. Trust me, it's horrible.

First some background. I have a 210g mixed reef and I had a few rocks that were becoming infested with a plain looking green zoanthid that had stripes on the polyp. I had read somewhere on-line (I'm not sure where) that boiling water would get rid of them. Well, I know how to boil water so I figure it would be a piece of cake. Now here is where the story starts getting interesting.

I boiled some water and got a 5 gallon bucket. I pulled out 1 rock and held it over the bucket. I poured the boiling water over the polyps and the steam came up and I breathed it in. The first thing I thought was "damn that smells nasty". I took the rock and put it in my hospital tank and decided not to do any more because the wife wouldn't like the smell. So I decided to go outside and work on the kids playhouse.

Well, about 20 minutes after I inhaled the steam my nose started running really bad and I started coughing. "Well, it's going to be a hell of an allergy season" I thought to myself. After all I was working outside. So I decided to suck it up and take some benedryl. Well about 4 hours later I started to realize it wasn't just allergies. I started having a hard time breathing and noticed that I wasn't feeling just right. It was then that I remembered a story about someone who had a dog that had eaten zoos and died from it. So I went on to the internet and couldn't believe what I found.

Apparently zoanthids contain one of the deadliest naturally occurring toxins called palytoxin. In all of my research I found stories of warriors of old smearing their arrow heads and spear heads in zoos because such a small amount of the palytoxin can be fatal to humans. But everything I saw had to do with the toxin getting into the bloodstream. Then I started thinking and changed my search to "ingested palytoxin".

Well, it turns out that the zoanthids release the palytoxin when they are distressed. It also turns out that the palytoxin can be aerosolized......which when mixed with steam and breathed in........not such a good thing. I then came across this article by Julian Sprung that gives a little detail on someone else who had inhaled the toxin:

Well after reading that (and my wife reading it over my shoulder) it was off to the ER we went. Well on the way I started having more trouble breathing and was going into these coughing fits that would make a grown man cry.......and did. I started getting chest pains (by the way......if you want to get admitted to the ER quickly just tell them you have chest pains).

So after the EKG and we found out my heart was normal we waited 2 hours for a room. Once in the room they put my on a nebulizer, gave me a shot of steroids (prednisone) and a little morphine for the pain. They did a blood workup (which came back normal) and took chest X-rays (which came back normal) and even tested me for the flu.

After 15 hours in the ER they basically told me that they didn't know what to do. The research they did didn't turn up much more than I had printed off for them and palytoxin doesn't have a antedote. So they gave me a two week steroid treatment, some albuterol (inhaler), and a cough suppresant with codiene in it and sent me home.

Now, fast forward 2-1/2 weeks. I just got in to see a Pulmonary specialist and did not like the news. Apparently the toxin has given me a case of bad asthma. Breathing in the palytoxin has inflammed my bronchial tubes. Here is what really sucks.......they have no idea how long this is going to last. They just put me on one months worth of inhalable steroids (isn't inhaling what got me in trouble in the first place??) and told me to see how it goes for the next month. They can't tell me when or if it's going to go away or if their are going to be any long term effects. Meanwhile, every time I take a breath I have to try not to cough, I get migraine like headaches from all of the coughing and I have pulled every muscle in my chest and abdomen from coughing.

You hear stories and you think, "wow, that's aweful.......but that won't happen to me". Well let me tell you.......I thought the same thing and now I'm in more pain than I care to imagine. BOTTOM LINE - BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU HANDLE ZOOS.......THEY ARE VERY DANGEROUS AND IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. "

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Interesting topic sig.

That is an old story but there has been more recent cases of aerosolized toxins involving common green paly's.

A few years ago I spent significant time researching the topic due to a oddity in my life. I developed flue like symptoms and was checked into the hospital with full renal failure and fell into a coma. My wife was told I had less than 5% odds of ever waking up and there was no explanation for any of it. Once I learned to walk again I spend much of the rest of my recovery with google looking for answers.

I have large colonies of Hawaiian Paly's and they will slime up a storm within seconds of being irritated. They have a history of being used in a similar manner as dart frogs by aboriginal/indigenous peoples to enhance the effectiveness of their weapons. I handle those paly's regularly and have done so for many years.

In the end I do not believe corals had anything to do with my experience. I still handle corals daily and I do not wear gloves. I do wear glasses though.

This particular story keeps referring to them as Zoa's and in my research I could find no indication that any Zoa's contained enough palytoxin to be of concern unless the person happens to be sensitized to them. The author/victim appears to be largely ignorant of the animals he kept so they may have been paly's. His description of green polyps with stripes certainly sound more like palys.

When ever these stories come up people tend to over react to the dangers, of zoa's/paly's, but the fact is many, if not most, corals are toxic.

I know of a person that got stung by an Elegance and 9 months later you could still see some of the damage. The person had worked professionally at a marine wholesaler's when he got stung. He had handled many many Elegance corals with no harm and then one day BAM.

There is a very common misconception that regular contact to potential irritants will increase your resistance to them. It is just as likely that regular contact will make you more sensitive to the toxic effects until it eventually becomes an issue. Woodworkers who breath wood dust are a good example of this.

If the hot water in your home is set too hot ( very common ) than it is possible to cause some degree of aerosolization of almost any biological material you hold under the running water. Once aerosolized a substantial degree of biological material will display some level of toxicity when inhaled.

My hot water in my house is never that hot as it is dangerous from a burn perspective as well as a waste of energy.
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