Palytoxin from Palythoa zoanthids is really, REALLY dangerous

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  1. Avatar Michael La Polla says:

    I had the misfortune of learning about Palytoxin the hard way back in 2012. After a customer had asked my employer if he could send someone to exterminate the palythoa, a great friend was trained on how to do it. Unfortunately for me, my employer switch our schedules and I ended up at this one without any training for exterminating. (I never kill anything, my main goal is to keep things alive and make them thrive). The long/short of it is, a near death experience and 10 years later, I am still in bad shape from it. As far as I know I have had the longest and worst exposure to date of anyone who has lived to tell about it. After my initial exposure from inhalation, (the customer suggested putting a huge paly-covered rock in his slop sink in the basement, as it was too big of a piece to use the little wire brush I was given to clean them off. It basically took up the entire sink. I waited for the water to get hot, plugged the drain, and lowered the piece in as it filled. As SOON as I reached over to turn off the water, my throat started closing and I started choking and coughing unaware of how serious this exposure was. I have a wicked work ethic, so I stayed at the location for another 2 hours to finish the job, the entire time inside the customers house, with the AC on and all the windows closed. (2 adults and 2 children were also in the house) I finished up, and went to a vitamin shop to pick up some NAC but I was already starting to go down hill. I got to my next account and had to leave because of how terribly I started feeling. I drove back to the shop, pulled into the parking lot and just as I did, my employer pulled away. I then called my fiancée who is a nurse, and she called my friend I worked with and my employer. My friend found me in my car going into shock and he drove me straight away to her hospital. (they are so useless at the hospital. They could not seem to understand that I was poisoned by a coral. yeah, I know it’s rare, but still, I’m dying and they’re asking me the dumbest questions and trying to give me an antibiotic. They pressured me to take Levaquin, so I signed myself out fearing for my life, and for dropped off at home. I nearly died in my bed, my lungs literally felt like they were on fire, like I had burning embers in my lungs, I was coughing up blood and thought for sure I was going to die. My head felt like it was going to pop, the most splitting headache I’ve ever experienced and my teeth felt like they would pop out of my mouth from the pressure. My brain swelled. My fiancée found me the next morning and immediately started rubbing me down with alcohol, and putting ice packs on my head, ankles and wrists. She took my temperature and it was 105.9,…(it was probably higher throughout the night as I lay there dying) I lost about 20lbs in 2 weeks, was white as a sheet, no color left in me and it was like my entire body was an open wound. I had gotten a piece of the coral on the back of my glove and it went right through the material and bummed a hole right down to the bone knuckle on my thumb. Manuka honey healed that right up in a matter of days, but as far as the rest of me, 10 years later and I am still disabled from it, according to the doctors, 100% Permanent/Total. Beside the fact that it wreaked havoc on my body, leaving me with Neurological, Lung and Brain damage, it has pretty much destroyed my whole life. I lost my fiancée, I can no longer work, and I am no longer the same as I was. I have faced adversity my entire life though, I am no stranger to it. I will do what I must to carry on.

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