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Old 10-31-2010, 07:33 PM   #1
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palytoxin - wear gloves

I searched and found a few old threads - thought Id post a new one to generate discussion. And perhaps find out Im not the only numbskull.

I got off the phone with poison control about 30 minutes ago....

I spent some money today for some amazing SPS coral - several nice pieces and frags. Was really excited when I got home to move stuff in my tank around to make space for my new additions. I did not put gloves on even though I have several pairs. I have gone gloveless before and developed a bad habit of sticking my hands in my tank without thinking twice about it.

I have several Zoanthid/paly colonies all of which I moved several times bare handed - I even recall the slime feeling on my hands and thinking I should be wearing gloves. I spent about an hour in my tank messing around and I suddenly realized that I was getting light headed, my eyes were feeling really strange and I was having trouble seeing... A bad head ache followed. It all came on quite quickly. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out what was going on... I quickly took a shower washing my hands really well.... I never had trouble breathing or any other more severe symptoms but the ones I did have were not fun.

My wife convinced me to call poison control which I did. Fortunately my symptoms have improved and I am feeling better. I admit I am a little embarrassed by this but thought Id remind those of you like me who know better and those of you who didn't know about risks involved with handling zoanthids or other potentially dangerous coral.

You better believe I will be wearing gloves from now on.

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Old 10-31-2010, 09:34 PM   #2
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Glad to see you are feeling better. I know of those whom also react allergically even if their skin touches the water so you may want to invest in arm-length gloves and not just standard wrist-length. Since you are allergic, best to not stick your hands in your tank if you have any cuts or open wounds until they have healed.

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Old 10-31-2010, 09:41 PM   #3
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Thanks - Interestingly enough I have moved zoas (these same ones) around before.. without problem. And I don't have any cuts/sores/wounds etc.. on my hands or arms. I think what caused this reaction was the amount of exposure... either that or I might have gotten something in my eye or mouth some how.. I know I ate some carrots while working on the tank so I may have ingested a tiny bit of the toxin. Arm length gloves wouldn't be a bad idea - but I think if I wouldn't have been as careless and just used regular gloves I wouldn't have had any problems.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:51 PM   #4
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I try to make it a habit of wearing gloves whenever I'm in the tank. I'm not 100% on it though, but I keep a box of powderless nitrile gloves (can get them at any hardware store) on-hand for just working in the tank.
In the DC Metro Area? Check out GWAPA and WAMAS
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:17 PM   #5
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Taken from the ASA Newsletter...
According to an ancient Hawaiian legend, there lived in the Hana district on Maui a man who always seemed to be busy planting and harvesting. Whenever the people in the neighborhood went fishing, upon their return, one of the group was missing. This went on for some time without the people having any explanation about the disappearances. At last the fishermen became suspicious of the man who tended his humble patch. They grabbed him, tore off his clothes and discovered on his back the mouth of a shark. They killed and burned him and threw the ashes into the sea. At the spot where this happened, so goes the legend, the limu (seaweed) became toxic. The tidepool containing the poisonous limu subsequently became kapu (sacred) to the Hawaiians. They would cover the limu with stones and were very secretive about its location. They firmly believed that disaster would strike if anyone were to attempt to gather the toxic limu (later identified as a soft coral, Palythoa toxica). This toxic moss was known as "limu make o Hana" (deadly seaweed of Hana) and from this material, Professor Paul J. Scheuer at the University of Hawaii extracted by ethanol a new substance he named palytoxin [26]. [Editor's note: palytoxin is not produced by the red seaweed, but by the small soft coral mistaken as seaweed.] The crude ethanol extracts of the Palythoa toxica proved to be so toxic that an accurate LD50 was difficult to determine. More recently, the toxicity has been determined to be 50-100 ng/kg i.p. in mice. The compound is an intense vasoconstrictor; in dogs, it causes death within 5 min at 60 ng/kg. By extrapolation, a toxic dose in a human would be about 4 micrograms. It is the most toxic organic substance known!
Shimizu [27] and Moore [28] published the chemical structure of palytoxin and it was prepared synthetically in 1989 [29,30]. Palytoxin is a fabulously interesting compound, with a bizarre structure and many extraordinary signs (Fig. 6). Palytoxin is a large, very complex molecule with lipophilic and hydrophilic areas. The palytoxin molecule has the longest continuous chain of carbon atoms known to exist in a natural product. In the molecule of palytoxin, C129H223N3O54, 115 of the 129 carbons are in a continuous chain.. There are 54 atoms of oxygen, but only 3 atoms of nitrogen. Another unusual structure of palytoxin is that it contains 64 stereogenic centers, which means that palytoxin can have 264 stereoisomers! Added to this, the double bonds can exhibit cis/trans isomerism, which means that palytoxin can have more than 1021 (one sextilion) stereoisomers! This staggering molecular complexity should indicate the difficult nature of designing a stereocontrolled synthetic strategy that will produce just the one correct (natural) stereocenter out of >1021 possible stereoisomers.
Palytoxin induces powerful membrane depolarization and ionic channeling [31,32]. Palytoxin is a potent hemolysin, histamine releaser, inhibitor of Na/K ATPase, and a cation ionophore [33]. It is also a non-TPA-type tumor promoter [34,35].
Happy Reefing,
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
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Wow.. that is crazy. Good to hear your ok though. Might want to add that to my list of things to get lol
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:49 AM   #7
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Glad you're ok. Good reminder. It seems we hear of an episode at least once a year.

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