Cleaning the aquarium releases palytoxin
If you are the owner of an aquarium, you probably know the problem: an aquarium looks very nice, but it also does a lot of work. Regular cleaning takes a lot of time and effort. The fact that cleaning an aquarium can also lead to poisoning and possibly even death of those affected is probably new to most people. But a British man poisoned himself, his family members and four firefighters by cleaning his aquarium and put him at risk.
Chris Matthews, a 27 year old Briton, just wanted to clean his aquarium. He poisoned himself, his family, two dogs and four firefighters. Chris scraped a coral-covered rock while cleaning, which triggered the release of toxic fumes. At first, the process went unnoticed, but the next day Chris, his girlfriend, mother, father, sister, and boyfriend developed flu-like symptoms. Even the dogs in the family fell short of breath, cough and fever. The symptoms became as bad as pneumonia, reports Chris Matthews, according to Fox News. Chris became afraid that his family might be poisoned, he called 911 and the family was hospitalized. This was followed by a large-scale emergency measure, in which the affected street was closed to the public and a police block was established.
Cleaning corals released lethal substance palytoxin
When cleaning, Chris scratches a rock covered with corals. He accidentally released the deadly substance palytoxin. After cleaning, Chris went to bed. The following day, the whole family developed flu-like symptoms, and even their two dogs fell ill. Chris suffered from shortness of breath, cough and fever. During the course of the day, his mother, sister and boyfriend also fell ill to varying degrees. Due to the inhaled toxic fumes, all family members had to be hospitalized. Even the dogs had to be treated after inhaling the poison.
Four firefighters were also poisoned
Four firefighters, who were the first to be on site, were later hospitalized. After a while, they were released together with three family members. The other members of the family were kept in the hospital overnight for blood tests.
Another night in the poisoned house could have resulted in death
The symptoms were worse than with flu, the family members could not concentrate on anything, explains Chris. The temperature rose and the members of the family had difficulty breathing and had a severe cough. The family woke up the next morning and felt dizzy. As a result, they assumed that they had the flu. But when the two dogs developed similar symptoms, the family members noticed that something was wrong. If the family had stayed in their bedroom for another night, it would have been life-threatening.
What is palytoxin?
The situation is very worrying - what could have happened if a small child or an elderly person had been in the house. The house was ventilated for one night while specially trained Oxfordshire Fire Brigade personnel worked with Public Health England to remove the rest of the coral. These had released so-called palytoxin. Palytoxin can lead to rhabdomyolysis, which triggers the breakdown of skeletal muscles. In other words, the content of muscle cells, such as Potassium and calcium, myoglobin and other proteins are released into the blood plasma. The poison can lead to a bitter and metallic taste and cause abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, paraesthesia, bradycardia, kidney failure, sensation disorders, muscle cramps, tremor myalgia, cyanosis and shortness of breath. Ultimately, it can even lead to the death of the sufferer. (as)