30 October, 2009

Severe scorpion envenomation in children in Turkey

The scorpion fauna of Southeastern Turkey includes several species of medical importance, the most potent being Androctonus crassicuda and Leiurus abdullahbayrami (previously L. quinquestriatus). As in other countries, children are much more vulnerable to scorpion stings than adult because of their low body weight.

Bosnak and co-workers have published a retroperspective study on children with severe scorpion envenomation from Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. A general discussion on scorpion envenomation and treatment is also presented.

Background: Scorpion envenomation is a common public health problem worldwide and children are at greater risk of developing severe cardiac, respiratory and neurological complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of antivenin and/or prazosin use on prognosis of scorpion-envenomed children admitted to pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Methods: The standardized medical records of 45 children hospitalized with severe scorpion sting in PICU were retrospectively evaluated. General characteristics of the children, clinical and laboratory findings, treatment approaches and prognosis were evaluated. Results: The mean age of the patients were 6.1 + 4.1 years ranging between 4 month and 15 years. Male to female ratio was 1.8. Thirtythree (71.1%) cases of scorpion stings came from rural areas. Twenty-six (57.8%) of the patients were stung by Androctonus crassicauda. The most common sting localization was the foot-leg (55.6%). The mean duration from the scorpion sting to hospital admission was 4.5+2.6 hours. The most common findings at presentation were cold extremities (95.5%), excessive sweating (91.1%) and tachycardia (77.7%). The mean leukocyte count, and serum levels of glucose, lactate dehydrogenase, creatine phosphokinase and international normalized ratio were found above the normal ranges. Prazosin was used in all patients, dopamine in 11 (24.4%) and Na-nitroprusside in 4 (8.8%) patients. Two children died (4.4%) due to pulmonary oedema. These children, in poor clinical status at hospital admission, needed mechanical ventilation, and death occurred despite use of antivenin and prazosin in both of them. Conclusion: The current management of children with severe scorpion envenomation consists of administration of specific antivenom and close surveillance in a PICU, where vital signs and continuous monitoring enable early initiation of therapy for life-threatening complications. The aggressive medical management directed at the organ system specifically can be effective. Our data indicated that when admission to hospital is late, the beneficial effect of antivenom and/or prazosin is questionable in severe scorpion stings.

Bosnak M, Levent Yilmaz H, Ece A, Yildizdas D, Yolbas I, Kocamaz H, et al. Severe scorpion envenomation in children: Management in pediatric intensive care unit. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2009 Oct 7. Doi:10.1177/096032710935066.

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