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Unread 09/28/2015, 12:09 PM   #55
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billdogg's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Grove City, Ohio
Posts: 10,806
First, some background:

I've been in the hobby since the mid 80's. I'm also a certified diver with over 1000 dives in the Caribbean and Pacific as far as Hawaii. I've been stung in the water by various creatures on a number of occasions, all through my own inattention, mostly while taking a photograph of something else.

Those exposures pale in comparison to what I did to myself in my own home, with creatures that I have kept for 20+ years without issue.

I needed to move my 60g tank into another room for new carpet. Although Zoanthids and Palythoas had covered a majority of the rock in the tank, I pretty much ignored them as I drained the tank and prepared to move it some 15 feet. Because the rock (a large piece of pumice siliconed to the bottom) could not be removed, my arm rubbed against the paly and zoas for 20 or so minutes while cleaning things up. At that point, I noticed that my arm was turning red. Oops! I turned to my wife (a RN) and said "If I stop breathing, call 911 and tell them it is palytoxin exposure" Her response was "Huh?". I explained it in detail after washing with soap and water. I then refilled the tank and we went to dinner. By then, it looked like a almost 2nd degree burn - no blisters, but bright red and burning/itching. It didn't get any worse that evening. The pain kept me from sleeping well and when I finally got up about 5:30AM, I looked at my arm, now covered with weeping blisters. I woke my wife to tell her I was off the the Urgent Care and away I went. It was just after they opened on Easter Sunday. I walked in and the triage nurse asked why I was there. When I told her it was Palytoxin exposure she gave me a blank look, so I carefully took off my coat and showed her my arm. She walked me past a roomful of people waiting to be seen and straight to the Dr's office. After filling him in, he called Poison Control. Their first question was "Is the patient still alive?" Because obviously I was, they explained that there really wasn't anything to do at that point but steroids so I got a prescription and went on my way.

All in all, it cost me a trip to the UC, the steroids, and a week off work. (I work in a OR - scrubbing was NOT gonna happen!)

Kids - don't let this happen to you!!!!

Here's a picture of the tank - please note the profusion of palythoas and zoanthids

And here's a picture of my arm about 1 week post exposure

FWIW - my upgraded tank is a SPS/LPS reef with a few mushrooms - not a paly or zoa to be seen!

I'll try to be nice if you try to be smarter!
I can't help that I grow older, but you can't make me grow up!

Current Tank Info: 120 mixed reef with 40b sump, RO 150 skimmer, AI Sol Blue x 2, and a 60g Frag Tank with 100g rubbermaid sump. 2 x Kessil A360w lights, BM curve 5 skimmer
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