25 September, 2012

Scorpion envenomation in a region in Morocco

Oulaid Touloun and co-workers have recently published a very interesting and informative study on scorpion envenomation in the region of Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz in western Morocco.

In addition to typical epidemiological data, the paper also present data on the different species' habitat preferences. This makes the paper especially interesting as this explains why some species are more involved in sting incidents than others (and how they are involved). For example, all sting cases involving the burrowing species of Scorpio was caused by children playing with the scorpions after dislodging them from their caves.

Two species have caused fatalities between 1996 and 2006: Androctonus mauritanicus (22) and Hottentotta gentili (10). The latter species has not been mention often (or at all) in the medical literature as a potent species, and should be noted herafter. Interestingly, no fatalities involved Buthus spp., which has been considered medical important for north Africa (and of course still can be).

Morocco is a country in northwest Africa on the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean which presents an extremely diversified and rich scorpion fauna. In the Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz region, scorpions have great medical importance where scorpionism remains a genuine public health problem for local populations. Scientific expeditions in this region, carried out since 1994, allowed us to record 11 species and subspecies that represent 28% of Moroccan scorpion fauna, including ten that are endemic to the country. The distribution maps of all these species had already been established and then updated, which allowed us to specify new factors affecting their distribution modes. The present epidemiological study on scorpionism through prospective investigation has shown the severity of this problem. Of 724 scorpion sting cases, 32 deaths were reported between 1996 and 2006. Androctonus mauritanicus (Pocock, 1902) is the most medically important scorpion species in the study area (responsible for 53% of cases). Respective elevated morbidity and mortality rates of 30% and 48% have been recorded from accidents occurring in dwelling interiors. Limb extremities comprise the body areas that most exposed to stings (59%) which occurred predominantly during the summer period (53%). The age group most affected ranged from 16 to 30 years old (42%). This study determined some epidemiological characteristics of these envenomations and established their causes, origins and consequences.

Touloun O, Boumezzough A, Slimani T. Scorpion envenomation in the region of Marrakesh Tensift Alhaouz (Morocco): epidemiological characterization and therapeutic approaches. Serket. 2012;13(1/2):38-50.

Thanks to Dr. Touloun for sending me this paper!

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