Scorpions are one of the most deadly arachnid groups that exist, as many species produce venom that can kill an adult human after making him/her extremely ill. Scorpion stings are notable for causing a wide range of highly unpleasant physical symptoms ranging from cardiac issues to bizarre neurological conditions. It is not unheard of for people to fall into comas in response to scorpion envenomation. Although venom antidotes have been developed to treat stings from some of the most dangerous scorpion species, many antivenoms have yet to be developed for addressing stings inflicted by other potentially deadly scorpion species. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people around the world are vulnerable to scorpion stings. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that more than 1.2 million scorpion envenomations occur every year, 3,500 of which turn out to be fatal. The country with the greatest number of human deaths caused by scorpion stings is Brazil. For the past few years, deadly yellow scorpions have been moving into urban areas of Brazil for the first time in history, and this migration has caused a rash of deaths within the last year. In order to prevent yellow scorpions stings in urban areas of the country, many people have been putting chickens in backyards and around apartment buildings, as chickens are natural scorpion predators. Although this method of scorpion control may sound strange, such unorthodox control measures are not new to Brazilians.
During the early 1950s, the Brazilian city of Ribeirão Preto, which contained 80,000 residents, was invaded by deadly scorpions, resulting in widespread panic and numerous deaths. Between 1949 and 1951, over 10,000 scorpions were captured within the kitchens, bathrooms and backyards of people’s homes. In order to reduce the rate of scorpion sting fatalities in the city, a massive media campaign was launched to educate the public concerning the nature of scorpions and how to protect homes from being invaded by the arachnids. School students were subjected to daily lectures concerning the scorpion threat, and the city’s mayor enacted a program that entailed the capturing of scorpions by students. Numerous collection points were located all over the city and the mayor offered a prize to the student who succeeded in capturing the greatest number of scorpion specimens. Ironically, this particular public health campaign to protect residents from scorpion stings by reducing their numbers in the city only increased the risk of falling victim to potentially deadly stings.
Have you ever sustained a bite from any type of arachnid?