Taking the sting out of scorpions

By Sheryl Kay • Published: September 23rd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Their natural tendencies are to hide or escape. But cross paths too closely with a scorpion, that nasty-looking relative of spiders and mites, and it’s likely to defend itself by brandishing its venomous stinger.

Although generally not lethal to humans, a scorpion sting can bring about excruciating pain, numbness, difficulty breathing and muscle twitching. Children under the age of five are most at risk. Of the ten-thousand stings reported each year, two-thousand are suffered by children.

Now, a report recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine describes a very potent antivenom, called Anascorp, that can dramatically reduce the side effects of a scorpion’s poison.

The study evaluated children under the age of six who had been admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit because of a bark scorpion sting. Half the group was given the antivenom, half a placebo.

Symptoms disappeared in youngsters who received the antivenom within fours hours of a sting.

But those who got the placebo were far more likely to suffer symptoms for several hours, and required large doses of sedative medication and extended hospitalization. Researchers concluded that adding the medication to the emergency room arsenal could help most scorpion sting sufferers avoid the I-C-U.

But first, Anascorp, manufactured in Mexico, will have to undergo additional testing because it isn’t yet approved by the U-S Food and Drug Administration.

For now, if you live somewhere scorpions call home, keep your yard tidy and be sure to shake out clothes and shoes… both are favorite hiding spots.