09 December, 2010

Three cases of Euscorpius sting in Italy

I always tell peoples that contact me after finding Euscorpius in their homes and holliday houses in France, Italy and Greece that no species in this genus are harmless. This info is based on own experiences and the general opinion among scorpion experts, but there is very little in the literature adressing the consequences of stings from this genus.

M. Dutto and co-workers have now published three case reports of Euscorpius sting from northwestern Italy. Fortunately, this study confirms the general notion that Euscorpius mainly causes local effects like pain, skin discoloration and swelling, and that symptoms rapidly dissipate. Other symptoms may have a psychological etiology because of patient's fear and agitation from the sting.

One important caution from the authors however, is that patients where the involved scorpion has not been identified should be observed for a time. Non-native scorpions to Italy/Europe (either introduced as stowaways or kept as pets) may have been involved, and these may cause more serious symptoms.

In the period between June 2008 and August 2009, three cases of stings of Euscorpius scorpions indigenous to Italy were treated at two different emergency departments (ED) in hospitals of the Piedmont region, northwest Italy: Santa Croce e Carle General Hospital in Cuneo, and Santissima Annunziata Hospital in Savigliano. Scorpion stings in Italy are rare and not well documented in the literature; this situation may raise doubts among medical personnel as to how such lesions are best treated. Analysis of the incidents confirms that the venom of Euscorpius do not provokes systemic poisoning in humans and in these cases even dermatological reactions were not significant.

Dutto M, Dutto L, Scaglione N, Bertero M. Euscorpius (Scorpiones, Euscorpiidae): three cases of stings in northwestern Italy. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins Including Tropical Diseases. 2010;16(4):659-63. [Free fulltext]

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