Family Of Seven Hospitalised After Cleaning Fish Tank

Most people never think twice about giving the fish tank a good clean out every so often. This family, unfortunately found themselves in hospital after doing just that!

This bizarre poisoning by toxins released from coral from a fish tank is very rare indeed, and has stunned the leading authorities of Australia’s tropical reefs. Professor David Suggett, of Sydney University said that for all the family members to be admitted was indeed very strange.

Two adults and five children were admitted for treatment on Tuesday after ingesting airborne “spores’’ released from coral taken from a home aquarium. All were reported as being in a stable condition.

County Fire Officers found several pieces of coral which had apparently been scrubbed and cleaned, outside the aquarium after being called by the family about 2am on Tuesday. The home was quarantined immediately and a clean up crew brought in to ensure that the house was safe for the family to return to.

CFC Regional Officer Peter Phillips said that by cleaning the coral, they had released toxic spores into the air, which then were breathed in. The fire department was also planning on analysing the water in the tank. There is a possibility that other things in the tank may have caused the toxicity. This may have been a combination of different things which led to the release of toxins into the air where the family was working, which is why they were all affected.

Emergency services volunteers prepare to enter the home. Picture: Doug Robertson

Professor David said that working with Zoanthids was risky, and they were very cautious. Water quality may also cause the formation of micro-algae. Officers at the house were in constant contact by telephone with marine biologists during the decontamination.

“It depends what they had in their tank (because) a close relative of coral, called Zoanthids, are known to release toxins,’’ he said.

“I have heard of incidents of aquarists fragmenting coral, breaking it into small pieces, and similarly, they’ve been exposed to toxins but that’s anecdotal, I’ve never seen actual evidence.”

“When we work with (Zoanthids) we are very cautious indeed.”

“Another factor to think about is the water quality in tanks can sometimes promote the formation of micro-algae … that are also prolific toxin producers. So we can’t completely point the smoking gun to the corals.’’

Coral in a fish tank at this Aldinga Beach property is believed to have released toxic spores. Picture: Doug Robertson

Sam Quigley, a hazmat specialist said that it was a very unusual case for the team. They had not come across a case like that is South Australia before. The family were reported to all be in a stable condition.

“It’s a very unusual job for us, we haven’t come across something like this in South Australia,” Quigley said.

Source: The Advertiser

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