What is the incidence of scorpion envenomation in the US?

Updated: Nov 09, 2018
  • Author: David Cheng, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Answer

Approximately 16,000 stings have been reported, with the majority being from the nonlethal scorpions. Only 1 of 30 scorpion species found in the United States is dangerous to humans. The neurotoxin-bearing and potentially lethal scorpion species in the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion in the genus Centruroides. [5] Less than 1% of stings from Centruroides are lethal to adults; however, 25% of children younger than 5 years who are stung die if not treated. The epidemiological features of a patient who has been envenomed show a disposition for rural areas (59.6-73%), with most of the stings occurring in the summer months between 6:00 pm and 12:00 am (49%) and a second peak from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm (30%). Both of these peaks coincide maximum human activity with maximum scorpion activity. In addition, nocturnal envenomations are slightly more common than diurnal, as the scorpion is more active at night. Furthermore, the larger the scorpion population, the larger the incidence rate. Because the offending scorpion is recovered for identification in only 30% of the cases, local knowledge of the type of scorpion populating the area is useful.

The 2016 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS) reported 13,670 case mentions for scorpion envenomations, with 22 "major" outcomes and 0 deaths. [6] However, because of underreporting, this is probably an underestimation of the true number of stings.


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