17 January, 2013

Scorpions as a health problem in Algeria

Scorpions are a serious public health problems in many countries in North Africa. Fortunately, the number of deaths have decreased in the last decade, but young children still tops the mortality statistics.

Laid and co-workers have now published a study on the incidence and severity of scorpions stings in Algeria in 1991 to 2010. Potential dangerous species in Algeria are Androctonus australis, A. bicolor, Buthus spp. and Leiurus quinquestriatus (all Buthidae). See abstract below for more details on the results.

Scorpion stings are a public health problem in the Maghreb region. In Algeria, epidemiological data were collected over the past twenty years by the Algerian health authorities. This study is an analysis of morbidity and mortality data collected from 2001 to 2010. Annual incidence and mortality due to scorpion envenoming were 152 ± 3.6 stings and 0.236 ± 0.041 deaths per 100,000 people (95% CI), respectively. The risk of being stung by a scorpion was dramatically higher in southern areas and central highlands due to environmental conditions. Incidence of envenoming was especially higher in the adult population, and among young males. In contrast, mortality was significantly higher among children under 15 years, particularly ages 1-4. Upper limbs were more often affected than lower limbs. Most stings occurred at night, indoors and during the summer. Data collected since 2001 showed a reduction of mortality by nearly 50%, suggesting that the medical care defined by the national anti-scorpion project is bearing fruit.

Laïd Y, Boutekdjiret L, Oudjehane R, Laraba-Djebari F, Hellal H, Guerinik M, et al. Incidence and severity of scorpion stings in Algeria. J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2012;18(4):399-410. [Free full text]

No comments: