As the temperature continues to rise, scorpions can become an issue for homeowners in Arizona. Bark scorpions are the most common species found in desert homes. Their sting can cause serious medical problems. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, located at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, reminds the public that sometimes we come closer to scorpions than we want.
From time to time, a scorpion sting can cause severe symptoms that require fast and expert medical care. These symptoms may include difficulty breathing, uncontrolled jerking, drooling and wild eye movements. Doctors who admitted a 17-month-old girl to the hospital in Arizona thought her tremors and other similar symptoms were due to a scorpion sting. According to Dr. Farshad Shirazi of University of Arizona College of Medicine, only later did they realize the real cause of her condition was consumption of methamphetamines. The young girl eventually recovered and was discharged from the hospital a week later.
“People who have been stung by scorpions of the species Centruroides sculpturatus, which is common in Arizona, often have some of the same symptoms as the girl,” said Shirazi. This case shines light on the similarity between the symptoms of a scorpion bite and those of drugs like methamphetamine. “These [symptoms] include some movement disorders, and movement of upper and lower extremities, and some foaming at the mouth,” Shirazi explained.
The victim arrived at the emergency department agitated, twitching, sweating profusely and salivating excessively. Having seen such symptoms in patients bitten by the bark scorpion they inquired and the girl’s mother confirmed that she had seen scorpions many times at their home. The doctors began treatment by administering three vials of anti-venom which stopped the uncontrollable eye movements and salivation, but not the tremors. The patient also had a fever, and her heart rate was high.
In addition, the doctors could not locate evidence of a scorpion sting. The patient’s mother eventually revealed that the girl’s grandmother temporarily left her alone with an aunt who used methamphetamines. When the doctor tested the child’s urine, they found meth in her system. However, it was not clear exactly how the ingestion occurred.