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FarmerTy

Palytoxin - My Experience With It

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Hello ARC,

As most of you know, I've always been pretty involved with the hobby and this club for a long time now.

I just wanted to share my experiences with palytoxin poisoning as I recently was a victim of it. It can get the best of us, new or seasoned to the hobby.

The paly in question were two, mind-blowing palys and grandis palys. I recently picked up some small colonies of each from somebody shutting down their tank and planned to frag them and sell them at the swaps as I usually don't have many offerings for softies since I mainly keep acros. Call it diversifying your product if you will.

I was cautious as I was aware of the potential for palytoxin when cutting up any zoas or palys. I wore nitrile gloves that extended up to my elbow and also wore eye protection to protect against splatter. Where I went wrong was to pull out my Gryphon coral band saw to frag the colony.

When normally fragging them, a scapel and some bone cutters are best utilized as it doesn't kick up anthing. Since I paid good money for the saw, I thought I would put it into action. The saw unfortunately allowed the palytoxin to go airborne in the house and sent both myself and my dog to the ER.

Symptoms included chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, severe aches throughout the body, sensitivity to touch, loss of balance, dizzyness, and respiratory issues such as bronchitis and short, rapid breathing.

I'm okay now, it occurred yesterday at around 3pm. I spent most of the night at the ER getting tests run on me and feeling pretty miserable. Today, I have some good drugs to help with the pain and respiratory issues but there is no actual treatment for it... just medicine to help with symptoms. It just has to pass in time.

So, lesson learned and I hope that my story will benefit others to take caution with zoas and palys when fragging. I hope it also makes people aware that it's not some national story far away from us, but it happened right here in Austin and it is something we should all keep an eye out on. No doubt, there is a palytoxin carrying zoa or paly in a lot of our tanks so be careful everybody and happy reefing.

I'll be posting articles when I get a chance with other stories of palytoxin as well as other informative items on the topic. I'll also be posting known corals that carry it so we can all add it to our lists.

I'm still torn on keeping the palys in question. It's fine unless I ever decide to frag them. And if I do, I'll be fragging them outside the house and will not be using the saw. There are plenty of poisonous critters we keep in our tanks knowingly, certain urchins, lionfish, foxface, anemones, zoas and palys, boxfish, etc so keeping toxic palys doesn't seem too crazy... And this is coming from a guy who got worked over by palytoxin already. It beat me up AND stole my lunch money!

****************RUNNING LIST OF PALYS/ZOAS THAT MAY HAVE PALYTOXIN*******************

I am to add to this list if I see any reported, even if not 100% confirmed just to be cautious:

Grandis palys

9c7bcb1aa91813faca4a479dcf8c8d1d.jpg

Cinnamon palys

1ab7a0daea5757014afdb982fb2352e5.jpg

Mind-blowing palys

8e9befa7d53435c77215495497557d33.jpg

Texas trash palys

8f9f5d78bffcb1dbe50229bbdb892569.jpg

Nuclear Green palys (based on my emperor not eating them as he ate all zoas and palys in my tank except grandis and nuclear green)

93669c3e0a9e32d43a0f19df2f3633de.jpg

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Sorry to hear about your adventure yesterday. I have only had a metallic taste in my mouth from the palsy toxin... I will make sure not to use a saw for them. Hope you recover quickly!

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Wow that's scary stuff! Glad to hear you're on the road to healing up. Were the symptoms immediate or did it take a while?

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I'm so glad you're okay! How scary! And I'm glad I'm reading this today and not before now. I was nervous enough pulling out a big rock in my tank and removing a bunch of palys I know have palytoxin. I'm glad you're sharing your story so we can all learn. How's your dog? What did they do for him? What did you do to decontaminate your house?

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Thanks all. It's going to be a somewhat delayed recovery until I'm 100% again but luckily, my lung capacity doesn't affect me much in posting way too much on ARC. wave.gif

That stinks man. Maybe it would help to also discuss the best way to safely remove them from our tanks if we don't want them in there anymore.

You can just remove them and throw them away. The issue with palytoxin is when you cut the palys. I mean, don't go and lick your grandis paly and say that Ty said it was okay but you should be fine to just remove the rock its on and throw it away. If you want to save the rock, I'm sure you can just leave it in the sun and dry it out and maybe give it a good muriatic acid/vinegar soak afterwards.

Wow that's scary stuff! Glad to hear you're on the road to healing up. Were the symptoms immediate or did it take a while?

It took about 30 mins to start affecting me and by an hour, I was knee deep in the terrible symptoms.

I'm so glad you're okay! How scary! And I'm glad I'm reading this today and not before now. I was nervous enough pulling out a big rock in my tank and removing a bunch of palys I know have palytoxin. I'm glad you're sharing your story so we can all learn. How's your dog? What did they do for him? What did you do to decontaminate your house?

Zorro is doing well. We took him to an emergency clinic. They ran a bunch of tests on him and kept him for overnight observation. They just really let it work itself out of him. We decided to leave him for overnight observation mainly because we didn't want to overwhelm my wife with dealing with my issues and our dog's at the same time.

To decontaminate, I used a 20% diluted bleach solution and wiped down the areas that I fragged the corals in. For the painted wall, I used a 50% diluted vinegar solution. I wore nitrile gloves and a half-face respirator with an organic filter cartridge in it. Let me tell you something, working on probably 70% capacity on my lungs right now and using a half-face respirator was quite the task. We also changed all the air filters in the house. I ran the fan option on the AC unit so that it could cycle air, opened up all windows, turned on all ceiling fans, and used all fans I had on hand to blow out of my house to cycle all new air into the house. We let it air out for about 6-8 hrs today and in the last couple hours, closed everything back up and put the house back to normal.

Everything is fine now so I think we're good.

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Nice! Makes sure you do your own fit test on it to make sure it properly seals.

Thats very important.!! I've been trained in that bc my job sometimes deals w/ working around very dangerous acids and chemicals. It has to fit correctly or its just a useless funny looking thing on your face.

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Glad you are OK!

Did the hospital know what you were talking about or did you have to explain what palytoxin was?

They had no clue of course, but I don't blame them. We printed up an article on it and came with it to the hospital. They were very thankful we did.

Every nurse I had walked in and said... so... I heard you have an interesting hobby. shifty.gif

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Here's the article we took them:

http://www.advancedaquarist.com/blog/personal-experiences-with-palytoxin-poisoning-almost-killed-myself-wife-and-dogs

Here's an interesting study by the CDC on a reported case in Alaska. It looks like the paly that was the culprit in this case looks like the Texas Trash Palys some of us keep.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6431a4.htm

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Did you actually have them tested, just curious?

When they did that study a few years ago, the ones that tested positive almost all looked like TT and the Mind-blowing ones you have. Every single one that tested positive had that sort of varigated multi color center to them. Not a single solid color paly tested positive, even ones from the same tanks. Just anecdotal, but something that seemed very obvious just visually speaking.

If you really do an apples to apples comparison, it's hard to find many other animals on earth that are as potentially as toxic as these can be. The amount that can be fatal to a human is so small it's incredible. Box jellyfish and a blue ring octopus are really the only ocean inhabitants that are even in the ballpark of these.

The symptoms are basically like a nerve agent, really scary stuff. Glad to hear you're ok, it's definitely a sobering wakeup call in how dangerous something so seemingly benign can be.

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Did you actually have them tested, just curious?

When they did that study a few years ago, the ones that tested positive almost all looked like TT and the Mind-blowing ones you have. Every single one that tested positive had that sort of varigated multi color center to them. Not a single solid color paly tested positive, even ones from the same tanks. Just anecdotal, but something that seemed very obvious just visually speaking.

If you really do an apples to apples comparison, it's hard to find many other animals on earth that are as potentially as toxic as these can be. The amount that can be fatal to a human is so small it's incredible. Box jellyfish and a blue ring octopus are really the only ocean inhabitants that are even in the ballpark of these.

The symptoms are basically like a nerve agent, really scary stuff. Glad to hear you're ok, it's definitely a sobering wakeup call in how dangerous something so seemingly benign can be.

No, I didn't have them tested. I'm not sure the cost but at about $2000 of hospital bills for me and the dog this weekend, I probably won't be spending the money to submit a sample.

I agree with your anecdotal observations though. I almost wish I would have only cut the grandis or the mind-blowing palys so I know which one did me in.

I still have issues breathing and I get dizzy here and there. The fun is not over yet but it's bearable.

That's why I wanted to post. This stuff is no joke everyone. It almost took me and my dog out!

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Really glad your ok ty!!!! If not I would have no choice but to break down my tanks and find a new hobby! Who else would I bother with all these questions? I'm trying to bleed you dry of all your knowledge!!!!!!! Lol

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Really glad your ok ty!!!! If not I would have no choice but to break down my tanks and find a new hobby! Who else would I bother with all these questions? I'm trying to bleed you dry of all your knowledge!!!!!!! Lol

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks Jen. I got a bit of useful knowledge to share... don't mess around with palytoxin! You can take that one to the bank.

Bobcat - That's what I felt the worst about was pulling my dog into this. That definitely didn't win me any bonus points with the wife. The minute I started looking better, she was on be about endangering the dog.

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Wow, I had just read a thread on another forum talking about exactly this. There was some talk about starting a known database about which ones are toxic and the level of risk associated with each. Glad you are feeling better and for sharing, if it happened to you with your experience, it can happen to anyone.

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Sorry buddy, glad you're ok.

I had a similar experience when I upgraded from my 90g to my 230. We took the rocks with TTPs and put them in buckets with saltwater. They were there for hours while we moved the new tank in, filled it, did the rockwork etc. Final step was to put corals back in, including the rocks covered with palys. They had slimed quite a bit in the bucket. I put the rocks in the tank and had wavemaker, powerheads, and all sorts of other water agitation.

Within about 30 minutes my nasal passages and throat were burning. My wife and son arrived home, and within thirty minutes they were complaining as well. Not just griping complaining, but starting to have trouble breathing. It crossed my mind that it could be aerosolized palytoxin. We decided to open all the windows and leave, so we went to the Drafthouse to catch a movie thinking that a few hours would be enough. My nose and throat continued to worsen, and by about 30 minutes in the movie I was suffering full body aches and nausea. My legs were cramping horribly and I couldn't stay in my seat, but I didn't want to ruin the show for my family. We couldn't go home so I went out to the car to lie down on the back seat. About thirty minutes later there was a knock at the door. My wife and son now had the same symptoms and had left the movie to come to the car.

Our only debate was whether or not to go to the ER for all of us. I should have gone, but the 30 minute "nap" had allowed me to almost fully recover, diminished aches, pain, etc., so we decided they would wait it out thirty minutes and we headed home.

Within five minutes of being back in the house, even with open windows, my nose and throat started burning again. We decided to stay, but went to our respective rooms and sealed off the living room with open windows to air out through the night.

We could still "feel" it the next day and through the weekend, and it ended up taking all of us a week to fully recover (with relapses for us all throughout that time).

I discussed this with Timfish, who had helped with the tank move and never suffered any symptoms. He thought it was a flu bug, but I still believe we were all poisoned via palytoxin inhalation. There's no way my son who had just arrived from out of town would suffer a flu outbreak within 30 mins of coming home.

My advice, don't take chances.

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Yeah, I think this subject needs more coverage, since the majority of beginners keep zoas and palys in their tank as they are easier to care for. I'd hate for someone to get it worse than I did. I started compiling a list of palys/zoas in the first post of this thread. If anybody has experience directly and want to add any other types, please send me a picture and I'll add it to the list.

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