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Old 06/04/2010, 05:11 AM   #1
acerhigh
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Palytoxin Poisoning

My good friend Mucho Reef asked me to stop by and share my story. I can only hope that I help at least one reefer avoid what I went/am going through!

I am writing this to stress the importance to everyone new and old reefers alike.... NEVER forget to wash your hands after handling anything in your tank.... your sight may depend on it.

On Wednesday 05-12-2010 I was messing around in the tank, the tank and inhabitants are sold and I'm awaiting him to pick it up right now. Anyway, the tank is at my shop where I work..... I fragged a colony of purple deaths for a friend and after having my hands in the tank, I got busy at work and neglected to wash my hands. Not long afterward I felt something in my left eye, rubbed it, and the drama begins!

Wednesday evening the eye was irritated and getting more so as the evening went on... I tried rinsing the eye under water, but that didn't help. I had some re-wetting drops that a friend that works for an eye doctor gave me. I tried those, and within 5 minutes, I was in pain so severe, I had never felt anything like it before. I finally called a friend to drive me to ER that night... The doctor there said that other than the irritation, he couldn't see anything wrong, They flushed the eye and recommended I see an ophthalmologist on Thursday.

this is how my eye looked on Thursday morning.



Went to the ophthalmologist Thursday and after he had looked at it for about 5 minutes, I was told he'd never seen anything like that and I needed to go to the Kellogg eye center at U of M in Ann Arbor. For those who don't know, when a doctor tells you you need to go to U of M around here, it usually means it's something serious!

After about 4 or 5 hours at U of M and about 6 or 7 doctors later, they prescribed some antibiotic eye drops and some steroid eye drops. 1 drop 4 times a day in each eye from each drop. The eye was so swollen that I could not open it all, and even when the eyelid was pried open, it could only be opened slightly. I had no sight in the eye other than light.. No shapes or colors were visible. They sent me home and wanted to see me again the following day.

Friday morning was much better...... the swelling had decreased noticeably and I could vaguely see shapes and slight tints of color. I got good news at U of M that day that they didn't anticipate any permanent damage to the eye. I was told to continue the drops and come back on tuesday again.

This is how it looked on Friday morning



Over the weekend the swelling continued to get less, and the eye started to open some...... though the eye was very bright red in appearance. the Sight had continued to get better in the left eye, On Tuesday I could still only make out shapes and colors.. I still couldn't read anything with that eye. I could make things or people out well enough to identify them, but that's about it.

Tuesday 05-18-2010 this is how the eye looked.



you can still see the pink in the eye, and no longer the red like it was, as you see the eye is still not open all the way, though that seemed to improve a small amount each day.

The doctors at U of M say, there was still an unusual inflammation of the cornea, but that they still didn't feel there is any permanent damage to the eye or eyesight. I had to trust them at this point and hope they were right.

06/04/2010 - It's been 3 weeks now since the incident. my cornea is still slightly inflamed. One of the doctors there keeps telling me my eye is still angry! LOL She insists it's a medical term! I have probably somewhere around 95% of my sight back in that eye.... I can see everything ok, but it's all still just a little fuzzy.... The inside corner of the eye is still a little red, but you probably wouldn't notice it looking at me unless you were looking for it.

My last trip to the doctor at U of M he looked at it and said, "Wow, what a relief! It looks so much better now. I was really worried for you that first day!" I'm torn whether to think, I would have wanted to know that then...... or now... I guess now is best, because I was worried enough for myself the first few days!

Please, PLEASE don't forget to wash your hands after handling your coral! I know better than this..... I have had saltwater tanks for years and years... and ALWAYS wash my hands afterward..... well, I guess now I can only say usually......

I write this only as a caution to others..... don't forget again.... you're sight depends on it!!!

Thanks for reading.....

Take care

Dan


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Old 06/04/2010, 05:39 AM   #2
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wow glad you are ok! I will change the way I treat my corals from now on. I have been in the habbit of fragging without gloves or eye protection and stupidly never wash my hands until I am completely finished working with my tank which sometimes can be a few hours. not anymore.
thanks for making reefers aware of this.


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Old 06/04/2010, 05:48 AM   #3
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Wow, that looks painful! I'm glad you came out of it ok. Everyone should print that first picture, and paste it outside of their tank stands as a reminder to wash their hands or wear gloves! Did the doctors ever run labs to determine what type of bacteria infected your eye? A lfs owner that I know had a similar occurance except for him it was an arm that blew up. No one knew for sure, but we suspected vibrio, a potentially fatal bacteria that lives in seawater. Very scary indeed!


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Old 06/04/2010, 09:33 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing that Dan, God speed to you my friend. Please feel free to come back and share when you can. Your knowledge and experience are welcomed here buddy.

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Old 06/04/2010, 10:02 AM   #5
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Dan sorry to hear man, I too went through that trauma... felt like someone poured draino or acid into your eyeballs. Burning sensation from the time you wake up to when you sleep.


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Old 06/04/2010, 10:28 AM   #6
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I always handle corals with surgical gloves on and a few weeks ago I bought safety goggles at Home Depot. Reading this makes me think I haven't been overdoing it at all. Thank you for sharing.


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Old 06/04/2010, 11:47 AM   #7
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Yeah, funny thing is that folks that tend to handle coral a lot or frag a lot get to comfortable with these guys and forget what they are capable. Myself included which I had the unfortunate mishap like Dan.


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Old 06/04/2010, 12:24 PM   #8
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Same exact thing happened to me last month. I was squirted directly in the eye by a Zoanthus gigantus. Eye was very tender to the touch and painful. Eye Dr. did all kinds of tests and chalked it off as a bacterial infection from the squirt.

antibiotic drops and it was better in 4 days. Remember if it was palytoxin you and i would be dead. Be careful.

808


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Old 06/04/2010, 02:06 PM   #9
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I think each polyp has some form of toxicity, but I'd be worried the most if it was some true palythoas.

http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hiinverts2.htm


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Old 06/04/2010, 08:04 PM   #10
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thanks for sharing your story. Def sounds like it sucks


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Old 06/05/2010, 05:14 AM   #11
acerhigh
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I had definitely gotten comfortable over the years and lax in my caution. Never wore gloves anymore, rarely wore eye protection unless I was using the dremel or tile cutter. This day, when my friend came in and asked if he could get a frag...... I had long sleeves on, but he had short.... so I had him reach in the tank and grab the colony....... I only handled the coral outside the tank..... never really put my hands inside the tank to get in the water to help wash any residue off.... I think that is why mine ended up so bad. Whether or not it is true palytoxin poisoning or not...... the caution is the same..... I know palytoxin is lethal, but exposure to it in a diluted state would not necessarily kill any of us.... but rather make you very ill, or blind, or etc.....

I know the doctors told me that whatever it was, it damaged the protective layer of the eye.... and that is why when I put the rewetting drops in my eye that first night it was almost instant excruciating pain.... The saline drops I used when directly inside the eye. like putting salt in an open wound.

anyway, I'm thankful that I'm not blind...... Nervous to even put my hands inside the tank again.... though I have..... but have washed them repeatedly right afterward. and thankful that I have GREAT friends who drove me around to doctor's appts the first few days when I couldn't see well enough to drive.

And hopeful that my story has at least made a few people more aware and cautious about handling corals and the repercussions of what might happen!

Have a GREAT day!

Dan


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Old 06/10/2010, 10:11 PM   #12
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Bump


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Old 06/10/2010, 10:33 PM   #13
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Definitely going to remember to wash up.


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Old 06/10/2010, 10:40 PM   #14
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I swear those pics look exactly what I looked like when I rubbed poison oak in my eyes. Had to of been the worst week and a half of my life.


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Old 06/10/2010, 11:06 PM   #15
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Wow glad your ok and thank you for posting this thread about your experiance with this. I can say that I personaly am very lax when I frag and handle stuff inside my tank. This is some food for thought as to just how lucky I have been and how I need to change my habits when it comes to working in my tank. Cheese and crackers that eye look awful in the first shot.


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Old 06/11/2010, 01:45 AM   #16
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DAMMMMM! Glad your OK...

I've heard stories like this and they had been classified under myths and legends by a lot of reefers and my LFS. As a matter of fact, 2 LFS!!!

Thanks so much for sharing Dan. and thank you Mucho for asking him to share. Good lookin out...


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Old 06/11/2010, 12:51 PM   #17
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Thanks for sharing... I really can't imagine what that must have been like. The physical pain was probably not as scary as thinking that you might lose your vision.

Unfortunately, the comfort level a lot of us get over time with doing many things ultimately leaves us very vulnerable to injury (or worse). We all need reminders like this from time to time to keep the potential consequences fresh in our mind. Sorry the person in the reminder this time around turned out to be you, but your story will likely help prevent several hobbyists from having a similar accident.

Personally, having a baby two years ago was the best thing to ever happen to me in terms of being more safe with anything related to our aquariums. Being so young, smaller, and less exposed to all that I have in my time, I made a much more concerted effort to making sure as little as possible from our tanks comes in contact with her. There's many times when I've felt bad for not getting to her sooner if she starts crying, but I won't touch her if I've been in a tank without thoroughly scrubbing my hands and arms.

Best wishes for the remainder of your recovery!


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Old 06/11/2010, 06:01 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fsn77 View Post
Thanks for sharing... I really can't imagine what that must have been like. The physical pain was probably not as scary as thinking that you might lose your vision.

Unfortunately, the comfort level a lot of us get over time with doing many things ultimately leaves us very vulnerable to injury (or worse). We all need reminders like this from time to time to keep the potential consequences fresh in our mind. Sorry the person in the reminder this time around turned out to be you, but your story will likely help prevent several hobbyists from having a similar accident.

Personally, having a baby two years ago was the best thing to ever happen to me in terms of being more safe with anything related to our aquariums. Being so young, smaller, and less exposed to all that I have in my time, I made a much more concerted effort to making sure as little as possible from our tanks comes in contact with her. There's many times when I've felt bad for not getting to her sooner if she starts crying, but I won't touch her if I've been in a tank without thoroughly scrubbing my hands and arms.

Best wishes for the remainder of your recovery!
Wow, I really admire and greatly respect those last two sentences in your 3 rd paragraph. Much Respect !!!


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Old 06/30/2010, 06:18 PM   #19
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lol, so its not just me that is a dumb-arse!!! I have a very similar story. Working on some frags & something spashed into my eyes, ran out of the shed like a mad man & plunged face into sink, splashing water into open eyes and thats where I thought the problem ended. Eyes still felt a little irritated as if something was in them (apart from eyeball), but left it at that and went to bed. At about 4am, after rubbing eyes for several hours, work up with awful pain in my eyes, but managed to get back to sleep. Come the morning, I could barely open my eyes and if i opened the blinds, was in really bad pain, plus were watering to hell. Misses took me to hospital, after much convincing as I was just prepared to go back to bed & sleep it off (real hero). At the hospital, various doctors & various repeated explainations of what happend I was also prescribed eye drops, and had to see an eye specialist the following day. But before letting me leave the hospital they covered my eyes up, fortunately I was unable to see what I looked like as the girlfriend guided me out of the hospital.

But this is what I looked like with my face-bra on!!! (notice the lights are off as it killed my eyes to have them on.




anyway, got home & slept all day as couldnt watch tv or anything. Following day, still unable to see & like the other guy, started to feel sorry for myself & that I wouldnt see again & see my daughters get married when older. Anyway, up to see eye specilist & after various coloured dyes dropped into my eyes, giving futher eye drops & take it easy. In all, a rather scary few days & I now wear safety glasses. So be warned, I'm still not convinced about zoa's being poisonious, but they can definately cause serious pain.


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Old 07/01/2010, 12:51 AM   #20
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^ Glad your ok!!

Acerhigh- good thinkin heading to the docs when you did. My biggest worry, after having the same problem- is not going to the hospital in time...

Glad to hear everything will be fine!


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Old 07/11/2010, 08:00 AM   #21
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Thanks everyone for this...especially acerhigh for typing it with one eye..

Im going to buy myself some safety glasses to keep by the tank..


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Old 07/11/2010, 11:26 AM   #22
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You really do need to protect yourself when handling zoanthids.
One thing I use that helps me see and gives me protection is a 4" x 5" magnifying glass on a stand. It even has a light in it. The stand is flexable so you can bend it in any direction and the magnifying glass gives you a closer look at what you are trying to frag, plus gives you atleast one layer between your eyes and and a potentual accident.
I found mine at harbor freight.


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Old 07/11/2010, 11:41 AM   #23
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Call me overprotective, but when I frag them I commonly use gloves, eyegear, and a mask to avoid additional splashes on the face. Don't remove any of them until you're done and ready to cleanup. The number of stories I've heard from rubbing your eyes, wiping off your face, to a mistake due to a delivery guy are numerous. One story I heard was a careful and cautious fragger that had a ring at the door for a delivery, and proceeded to remove his gloves the easiest and quickest way possible... with his teeth/mouth...


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Old 07/25/2010, 05:34 PM   #24
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Good thread bump


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Old 07/25/2010, 11:57 PM   #25
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Thanks to everyone for the well wishes, I go back to the doctor on tuesday again this week. The eye still isn't 100% back to normal..... thinking there is probably some kind of permanent damage, though I don't know the extent.... It really doesn't bother me now, but I worry about the long term effects.....

Can't stress enough...... Please Use Caution!!!

Happy Reefing People!


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