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Zoanthids are an excellent, low-maintenance, fast-growing coral beloved by the marine aquarist (Figure 1). Despite their ease and beauty, zoanthids have specialized stinging cells called nematocysts, which are modified cells that inject a toxin for capturing prey or are released in response to stress or irritation.1 Some zoanthids produce palytoxin (PTX), one of the most deadly marine toxins.1,2
The toxic effects of PTX have been reported with dermal2,3 and ocular4,5 contact as well as inhalation exposure during cleaning of an aquarium or handling zoanthid colonies. In this article we report 2 cases of PTX-induced keratoconjunctivitis after the handling of zoanthid coral.
Moshirfar M, Khalifa YM, Espandar L, Mifflin MD. Aquarium Coral Keratoconjunctivitis. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128(10):1360–1362. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2010.206
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