Main Advantages of Toxin Of Echinoderms

The Phylum Echinodermata is marine animals that have radial symmetry (pentamerous), spiny skin and thick outer plates called calcareous skeleton.

There are nearly 6000 species of echinoderms that are found only in the sea but not in land or water.

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They have thorny skin that releases toxins to the prey that causes injuries in humans.

Echinoderms are normally harmless animals, but few species are poisonous or venomous.

Some examples of echinoderms are Asteroids (sea stars), Ophiuroids (brittle stars), Echinoids (sea urchin), Holothuroids (sea cucumbers), and Crinoids (sea lilies).

The venomous species of echinoderms release their toxin into the host through the bodily structure like spines. These species can be consumed after cooking as the toxin gets destroyed while cooking.

In the case of poisonous species, it should not be consumed by the host as the poison will not be destroyed on cooking at high temperatures.

Echinoderms are marine animals that have specific characteristics features like radial symmetry, a calcium-rich internal skeleton made of bony plates called ossicles, and a water vascular system for movement, nutrient uptake, and oxygen exchange. They can move and turn in all directions with help of muscles. The body interior of the echinoderm acts mostly as a basic systemic circulation and a respiratory tract. Echinodermata includes five classes which are Crinoidea (feather stars), Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers), Ophiuroidea (brittle star), Echinoidea (sea urchins), and Asteroidea (star-fish). The echinoderms that are responsible for harmful effects are sea urchins and sea cucumber species:

1. Sea-urchins: The body of this species is usually spherical with a rigid endoskeleton and a pointing spine. They are usually found in the ocean and also seen at the depth of 4500m. Sea urchins are of two groups: one having spherical symmetrical bodies and the other one is oval bilaterally symmetrical bodies. The presence of spines provide protection and this venous species cause a severe burning sensation in prey. The Toxopneustes species is the most toxic sea urchins which contain pedicellariae that are tiny claws that produce a toxin that causes severe pain. It has been found that the poison from pedicellariae has caused human death in people who have handled this species.

Injuries observed in sea-urchin spines belong to non-poisonous swallow water species which include Paracentrotus lividus, Psammechius microtuberculatus, Arbacia lixula, and Sphaerechinus granularis. Another species that has poisonous spines is Centrostephanus longispinus which causes injuries rarely as they are present deep in the ocean from 10m.

2. Clinical features: In the case of non-toxic sea-urchins, the spines can penetrate easily the soft tissue and give foreign body reactions. When they are not treated immediately, these spines can easily move in deeper tissue causing a granulomatous nodular lesion. Other symptoms include skin dermatitis, muscle, and joint pains. Injuries also occur through eaten sea-urchin shells or old dead spines if left carelessly in the shore area. It can cause severe infection and tetanus in unimmunized patients.

In the case of spines of the toxic species, there will be a severe throbbing or stinging pain that may spread all over the body and stay for several hours or days. Symptoms include swelling and redness at the site of the sting, there will be muscle weakness, numbness at the site of injury and lead to paralysis.

3. Treatment: The spines must be removed immediately from the injured site and various treatment options are discussed below:

When the injury occurs through old spines, antibiotics should be given immediately to prevent the spread of infection.

In the case of poisonous species, the wound area should be washed with saltwater, and the affected area is soaked in hot water around 500C for 30 minutes to one hour which will inactivate the poisonous reaction. A tourniquet is tied around 2-4 inches near the insect bite and if the swelling reaches the tourniquet, another is tied again four inches higher and the first tourniquet is removed.

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