The owner of the shop notified SOE of two additional suspected palytoxin poisonings in an Anchorage household in 2012.
Palytoxin is a potent vasoconstrictor that acts by binding to Na+/K+ ATPase, which leads to destruction of the ion gradient across cell membranes, passive transport of ions, and ultimately, cell death (4).
Because of the way these organisms attach to surfaces, aggressive methods are sometimes required for their removal, including cutting, scraping, applying chemicals, or scalding with hot water, which lead to an increased potential for palytoxin exposure, often through the presumed production of aerosols (7).
Palytoxin is known to some coral hobbyists (3), and the Anchorage aquarium shop displayed many signs warning that some coral might be very toxic.
Until data from controlled inhalation experiments in an animal model are available, this apparent link between palytoxin and inhalation toxicity will remain associative and evidence-based recommendations on appropriate respiratory protection or handling best practices will not be possible.
Palytoxin is a potentially life-threatening toxin that can act via dermal, inhalation, and oral routes of exposure.
At least ten persons in Alaska developed signs and symptoms compatible with palytoxin exposure after either handling zoanthid corals or being in proximity to someone who did.
The risks for palytoxin exposure are unknown to many in the commercial aquarium and hobbyist communities.
From a pump to a pore: how palytoxin opens the gates.
Palytoxin poisoning after dermal contact with zoanthid coral; J Emerg Med 2011;40:397-99.
Table 1: Comparison of Three Ingestion-Specific Toxidromes Characterized by Rhabdomyolysis Features Haff Disease Palytoxin Poisoning Toxin Unknown Palytoxin Ingestion Histories Buffalo fish, crayfish, Marine reef fish & Atlantic salmon bottom feeding fish Incubation (hrs.