A man nearly killed his entire family, including his two dogs after he inadvertently released the second deadliest toxin known to man while cleaning out his fish tank. Chris Matthews decided to be extremely thorough while cleaning and started scraping the coral off the rocks in the tank.
He had no idea that one of the rocks was covered with Pulsing Xenia coral. As he scraped the coral from the rock it released palytoxin into the air. One gram of palytoxin is capable of killing dozens of people, but it must be ingested to be lethal.
Matthews thought nothing of it as he went to bed.
But, the next morning everybody in his home started showing flu-like symptoms.
"It was worse than flu, we couldn't concentrate on anything. We couldn't regulate our temperature, we were struggling to breathe and coughing."
They realized that something was wrong when they noticed their two dogs were also showing similar symptoms.
“It was when we noticed our two dogs had similar symptoms that we knew something wasn’t right,” he recalled.
Emergency responders rushed to the area and shut down the entire street as a precaution. Four firefighters had to be taken to the hospital after inhaling the toxin while responding to the call.
The house was vented overnight and emergency crews removed the coral from the home.