Ten people and two pooches were poisoned when a man cleaning his fish tank unwittingly released fumes from the world's "second deadliest" toxin, according to reports.
Chris Matthews, 27, was cleaning out his tank in his Oxfordshire home in England late last month — when he took out a rock covered in Pulsing Xenia coral and began scraping it, The Evening Times reported.
Agitating the coral made it release the deadly substance palytoxin into the air. After he was finished, Matthews closed the door and went to bed, according to the report.
The following day, Matthews, his girlfriend, mom, dad, sister and her boyfriend came down with flu-like symptoms, Matthews told the paper.
"It was worse than flu, we couldn't concentrate on anything," he told the outlet. "We couldn't regulate our temperature -- we were struggling to breathe and coughing."
"It was when we noticed our two dogs had similar symptoms that we knew something wasn't right," he recalled.
He called for help, sparking a massive emergency services response, including ambulances, fire crews and police, according to the report.
Four firefighters even fell ill during the response. They were hospitalized, along with Matthews and the others.
Matthews, who has kept tropical fish for 12 years, told The Evening Times he had no idea that he had released the poisonous substance.
"If we had spent another night in that bedroom our lives would have been in danger," he said.