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Poisonous animals
Cnidarians (Jellyfish, Corals and Anemones)
Venomous fish
Hymenopterans (Bees, Wasps and Ants)
Sea snakes
Terrestrial snakes
Miscellaneous animals



Palytoxin poisoning

Clinical entries

For clinical data see section “Risk” below


various marine organisms

Common names


mainly tropical, marine waters


Palytoxin (PTX or PLTX) wich is notorious for its powerfull toxicity was first described from the colonial anemone Palythoa toxica (see "Various anthozoans and other hydrozoans that can cause envenoming in humans"). It has been detected also in some other cnidarians, in a red alga and some dinoflagellates. Eventually analogous compounds of PTX have been shown to be widely distributed in marine food webs of tropical reef systems in the Carribbean and Pacific ocean. There PTX-like compounds are not only found in the above mentioned organisms but also in various sponges, corals, echinoderms, shellfish, polychaete worms, crustaceans, and fish. PTX has also been detected in fresh water puffer fish from Bangladesh and Japan.




Since poisonous seafood may also contain a combination of other toxins like ciguatoxins, saxitoxins, paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins, or tetrodotoxin, it is often difficult to attribute a poisoning event exactly to one specific toxin. Palytoxin is made responsible for very severe cases of ciguatera (see clinical entries in the biomedical database for ciguatera) as well as for clupeotoxism.

After a fatal case in Madagascar where a woman ate small parts of a locally caught sardine (Herklotsichthys quadrimaculatus) PTX-like toxins were found in the fish tissue (Onuma et al. 1999). Fatal cases after ingestion of xanthid crabs (Lophozozymus pictor, Demania alcalai and Demania reynaudii) in the Philippines were also attributed to palytoxin-like compounds found in the culprits. The symptoms seen included a bitter/metallic taste, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, abdominal pain, numbness of the extremities, bradycardia, difficulty breathing, and renal failure (Alcala et al. 1988, Gonzales and Alcala 1977)


Literature (biological)

Deeds and Schwartz 2010, Gleibs and Mebs 1999