Advertisement

Ghost anemone dermatitis

      Abstract

      Background: Haloclava producta, the “ghost anemone”, is a burrowing sea anemone in estuarine sediments of the US East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. It has never been identified as harmful to human beings; however, residents of Long Island, New York develop a pruritic, erythematous, vesiculopapular dermatitis on areas of the body that contact these organisms. Neither the condition nor its cause has been described in the medical literature. Methods: We reviewed information of all water-related dermatitis reported by beach personnel, health providers, and affected swimmers to the Office of Marine Ecology, Nassau County Department of Health, New York from 1970 to 1991. Several episodes of an unfamiliar dermatitis among clam diggers, first recognized in 1981, initiated sampling efforts in 1985 when one victim, a bay constable, identified the area he frequented. During 1991, >100 persons were affected; sampling continued during reported cases. H. producta was isolated from all suspect sediment samples and tested on healthy subjects. Results: Typical of the phylum Cnidaria, H. producta has nematocysts capable of inflicting the observed dermatitis. Pressing them to the skin of healthy subjects produces dermatitis indistinguishable from that of victims. No other species with the same capability were identified from samples. Conclusion: H. producta is the apparent causative agent of ghost anemone dermatitis. Accurate diagnosis will allow appropriate treatment, education regarding prevention, and avoidance of unnecessary diagnostic tests or antibiotic use. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2002;47:722-6.)
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment
      AAD Member Login
      AAD Members, full access to the journal is a member benefit. Use your society credentials to access all journal content and features

      Purchase one-time access:

      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect

      References

        • Lotan A
        • Fishman L
        • Loya Y
        • Zlotkin E
        Delivery of a nematocyst toxin.
        Nature. 1995; 375: 456
        • Fisher AA
        Atlas of aquatic dermatology.
        : Grune & Stratton, New York1978
        • Miner RW
        Field book of seashore life.
        : GP Putnam Sons, New York1950
        • Gosner KL
        Guide to identification of marine and estuarine invertebrates.
        : John Wiley and Sons, New York1971
        • Ruppert EF
        • Fox RS
        Seashore animals of the southeast.
        : University of South Carolina Press, Columbia1988
        • Gosner-KL
        Peterson field guide to the Atlantic seashore, series 24.
        : Houghton-Mifflin, Boston1978
        • Williamson JA
        • Fenner PJ
        • Burnett JW
        Venomous and poisonous marine animals.
        : University of New South Wales Press, Sydney1996
        • Freudenthal AR
        • Joseph PR
        Seabather's eruption.
        N Engl J Med. 1993; 329: 542-544
        • Freudenthal AR
        Hazards at the beach. Vol. 4 of Edufacts.
        : Nassau County Department of Health, Mineola (NY)1982
        • Halstead BW
        Dangerous marine animals.
        3rd ed. : Cornell Maritime Press, Centreville (MD)1995
        • Burnett JW
        • Calton GJ
        Jellyfish envenomation syndromes updated.
        Ann Emerg Med. 1987; 16: 1000-1005