Fish tanks are a common addition to homes throughout the world and if they are not cleaned properly, they can become a deadly addition.
It’s quite rare, but there have been times when cleaning out a fish tank has had some horrible, life-threatening consequences. Chris Matthews and his family know this all too well.
The 27-year-old believed his family had caught the flu when they all began experiencing symptoms such as coughing and nausea.
However, when they started having eye problems, and the two dogs also got sick, Matthews knew it was definitely not the flu and something more serious in nature.
“We couldn’t regulate our temperature, we were struggling to breathe and coughing,” he told SWNS on Thursday. “We woke up the next morning feeling groggy but initially put it down to flu.”
It wasn’t until he started to look into what could be causing their symptoms that he realized the fish tank may be to blame.
The day before Chris’ family started feeling sick, he had been cleaning out the families fish tank.
SWNS reported that in the process of transferring rocks, corals, and other items into another container to clean them individually, Matthews scratched a coral, and unbeknownst to him, he released palytoxin in the air.
Known as the “second deadliest” poison in the world, palytoxin can harm a person “via dermal, inhalation, and oral routes of exposure,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Since Matthews did not open any windows to air out the room, he and the other five people in the house inhaled the toxic fumes overnight.
Matthews, finally knowing what was causing the illness, called the authorities.
The CDC claims that palytoxin is more dangerous when ingested, but in some cases inhaling the fumes could lead to “irreversible blindness.”
The coral was safely removed from the home and Chris and his family were treated at the local hospital.