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- May 9, 2018
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Deadly coral – Watching this might save your life one day…
poisI was cleaning out a 60 cube in the midst of a upgrade to a 120. The central rock was a large (+#100) chunk of pumice that was siliconed to the bottom (pumice floats). It was covered in pretty green "Texas Trash" palythoas. I managed to rub my arm in them multiple times during the clean out. I noticed my arm getting red and burning some. I looked over at my wife and told her "If I stop breathing, call 911 and tell them I've been exposed to palytoxin" When I explained the seriousness of the situation she called me an idiot and told me to wash up for dinner, so I, being the dutiful husband, did just that. My arm continued to burn/itch throughout the evening but otherwise seemed ok. I woke up about 5AM to very bad pain and large blisters covering a portion of my forearm. Off I went to the Urgent Care. Imagine the look on the admitting nurses face when I took off my jacket! I told her to google "palytoxin". That earned me a trip right past everyone in the waiting area and back to an exam room. The Doctor called Poison Control on speaker phone. They asked if the patient was still alive. I assured them that I was. They reassured me that since I had made it this far, I would continue to be one of the living! I got some steroids and pain meds and went on my way. It ended up costing me a week off work because I am a scrub tech and couldn't really scrub with my arm, well, like this!!!
That was about 5 years ago, and about 1 week post exposure. I still have the scars to prove it. I also have no palys anywhere in my system.
From what I've been able to find out, it is primarily the large ugly palythoa sp. that can be dangerous. Although zoanthid sp. are in the same family, they do not usually have a high enough concentration of palytoxin to be harmful unless you somehow aerosolize them.