The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA), working with Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and colleagues, has produced guidance to help marine aquarium hobbyists protect themselves against palytoxin poisoning.
Palytoxin is produced by species of Palythoa and Zoanthus soft corals with Palythoa species generally considered to be more toxic than Zoanthus species. However, as many hobbyists may not be able to distinguish between them, the collective term of ‘zoantharians’ is used.
The main symptoms of palytoxin poisoning following exposure either via the skin, eyes or by inhalation, include, but are not limited to, fever, cough, headache, difficulty breathing, chest pain, rapid heart rate, skin redness/rash, swelling, numbness/tingling, muscle pain, irritation of the eye, sensitivity to light and conjunctivitis.
The guidance provides advice on safe handling of corals to minimise the likelihood of coming into contact with palytoxins, as well as advice on seeking medical advice and the appropriate clean-up procedures to be followed in the event of an incident.