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Scorpion bite: is it poisonous?

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Monday, 02 de November 2009
Author: vivapets

Scorpion bite: is it poisonous?
Scorpion Bite

The scorpion’s venom actually causes more deaths than the snake’s. In the developing countries, for each death caused by a snake bite there are 10 deaths caused by scorpion bites. The fatalness of the scorpion bite is related to a diverse number of causes.

In Mexico, an average thousand people die every year because of a scorpion bite, while the United States have only registered 4 cases for the period of a decade. The seriousness of the bite depends mostly on the scorpion’s species, the victim’s age and weight, the place of the bite and the medical care received afterwards.


Species

The bite of a scorpion is a really serious deal, but it only applies to some the species of scorpions. Within the over 1500 species, only 50 are considered to be dangerously poisonous for humans and only a few of these have actually caused deaths. Most bites are, in fact, accidental, since scorpions are night-time creatures that will rather run than attack. However, they will use their spike to kill their prays or whenever they feel trapped.


Most dangerous species

The most toxic kind of scorpions belongs to the Buthidae family. The Leiurus quinquestriatus is the species with the most poisonous venom of all, but it is the Androctonus australis the one that has caused more human deaths to date. Most of such deaths result from the negligence of people that keep this North African scorpion in captivity.

Scorpions are generally found in arid areas, under rocks and other things. It is the ones with the widest and longest spike that represent the highest level of danger for human beings. The scorpions with the most developed tweezers are generally the ones with the lowest amount of venom on their tails. In fact, it is the smallest scorpions that have the deadliest venom.


Less dangerous species

The less dangerous scorpions are usually the ones that are kept in captivity, given that they don’t represent an actual threat for healthy adults and because when they eventually bite it won’t hurt as much.

Pandinus – the Emperor Scorpion (Pandinus imperator) and the Cave Claw Scorpion (Pandinus cavimanus) are the most common scorpions from this type, as well as the most popular for scorpion enthusiasts. The bite from these animals can easily be compared with that of a bee or a wasp, thus they’re harmless for healthy adults. They’re known for their developed claws and short spikes.

Hemiscorpiidae
– this is the family of some of the less poisonous scorpions but, oddly enough, it is also the family of the Hemiscorpius group, which is the exception, since it includes some of the most dangerous scorpions, namely the Hemiscorpius lepturus.

Heterometrus
– the Heterometrus spinifer and the Heterometrus javanensis are some of the species within this group that’s seen on the African and Asian continents. Their bites are rather benign, which means they have low toxicity levels, similarly to the Pandinus.


The victim

Children, the elderly and allergic people are the most threatened by the bite of a scorpion. Children are smaller, therefore, the venom spreads more easily on their blood. Allergic people might develop a serious – and lethal – allergic reaction to the bite, while other people would find it harmless.


Place of the bite

Most of the bites occur on the hands and feet. These body parts’ thicker skin makes it harder for the venom to go too deep, thus these are the body areas of lower poisoning risk.


Treatment

A scorpion bite is usually painful and the affected area gets reddish, sore and might even become slightly paralysed. If the bite comes from a low toxic species and it is experienced by a non-allergic healthy adult, it’s enough to put some ice onto the place of the bite. If the scorpion bites a child of 5 or more years old, an allergic or elderly person, they should immediately be taken to see a doctor.

In the most serious cases, you should make a garrotte next to the bitten area, similarly to what you do for snake bites. The victim should stay under absolute rest and should not eat anything in the next few hours. Muscular spasms and hypotension may occur in these cases. If the situation gets really ugly, there can be a cardiovascular halt that may ultimately lead to death.