PHOENIX (June 11, 2021) –Tuesday June 15 kicks off the Valley’s monsoon season which means more scorpions will be on the prowl and underfoot.
During the monsoon season, when bark scorpions are more active, the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center sees a jump in the number of calls about scorpion stings. Every year, the nonprofit hotline gets 7,000 to 8,000 calls regarding scorpions.
“You can see scorpions out there pretty much all year round, but like a lot of these critters, we see a lot more in the summertime,’’ said Meghan Spyres, MD, a toxicologist with the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.
In some rare cases, scorpion stings that inject neurotoxins can be fatal, she said.
“They can also cause involuntary muscle movement-- so jerking of the arms and legs-- and even more severe, in some cases, it can cause difficulty swallowing. People's eyes can move around in weird directions.
And so those are the more severe ones that we're more concerned about. The young, like little kids, and then more elderly. So, the extremes of age are more at risk for these more severe reactions.’’
Symptoms usually appear within two to three hours following the sting. Other symptoms include:
• Local pain/burning sensation; no swelling or redness
• Numbness and tingling moving through the body
• Swollen tongue sensation, excessive drooling
With proper treatment, the risk of complications from scorpion stings can be minimized.
“Once they (scorpion-sting patients) get the antivenom, they can often be discharged the same day from the emergency department,’’ Spyres said.
If you get stung, wash off the site with some cool water and soap, she said. Then, call the poison center ((800) 222-1222) and check to see if you need further medical care.
It can be difficult to protect your home against scorpions if they are prevalent in the area, Spyres said.
“One of the best things you can do to look for them is use a black light at night. That can help you see them, so you avoid putting your hand down if they're there.’’
Some people use glass to cover up area where they may be climbing since scorpions have trouble climbing smooth surface. But that approach is limited, Spyres added.
Other scorpion-safety tips include:
• Roll back bed linens and check for scorpions before getting into bed
• Shake or examine all clothing and shoes before putting them on
• Move furniture and beds away from the walls
• Wear shoes when outdoors, especially at night around swimming pools.
About Banner Poison and Drug Information Center
The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center is a phone call away and can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. The center provides a free, 24-hour emergency telephone service for both residents and medical professionals of Maricopa County. Assistance is available in more than 150 languages. For more information, visit bannerhealth.com/poisoncenter.