La Manzanilla and Scorpions

Doing a Google search on Mexico Scorpions got a lot of information. I then put the query "Scorpions" into the search of the Guadalajara Reporter and got 123 links of a more local nature (you will have to subscribe to read them in their entirety but I have quoted some important parts).

Anti venom -

FDA Stalls On Effective Scorpion Antivenin - this article (referring to the Arizona bark scorpion) say's "Anascorp, currently most effective antivenin for scorpion stings, lacks FDA approval and is illegal outside of clinical trials in a limited number of Arizona hospitals.

How not to become the target of Africanized bees - "We all took Avapena, an antihistamine made by Sandoz, recommended for scorpion and insect stings and available in all Mexican pharmacies.

Sister Cities Get Together - "All of the scorpions in the Manzanillo area (light amber color) are dangerous. People are advised to have anti-alacran serum in their medicine chest at all times. This can be obtained easily over the counter at any pharmacy and has a shelf life of three years. Should a person have an encounter with a scorpion, they should NOT take the serum immediately but wait 30 minutes to see whether any symptoms occur. An ice pack should be applied to the sting area to slow down the blood flow. If symptoms do occur the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately, making sure to take their own serum with them in the event the hospital cannot provide it.

"Guadalajara physician Irma Ceja generally uses antihistamines or large doses of cortisone to treat victims. Antihistamines have the advantage of producing a sedative effect. She recommends extreme care in the use of Alacramyn, a drug that came on the market at the beginning of the 90s. She says she rarely uses it because it cannot be administered twice to the same person; the second time the patient has "a terrible reaction."

"Symptoms of a scorpion sting include pain at and around the sting site; nausea; tingling in the throat or a feeling of having hair in it; excessive saliva; difficulty in swallowing and visual impairment. Small children who are unable to explain what they feel can be a problem. When bitten, they generally get restless, move around a lot and their eyes may roll, says Ceja. Scorpions are common at beaches."

"DID YOU KNOW? Bees, wasps and yellow jackets cause more fatalities in the United States than all other poisonous animals combined. Honey bees leave their stingers and venom sacs in victim’s skin when they sting, but wasps and honey bees can sting repeatedly."

Scorpions in Jalisco Mexico

Scorpions’ penchant for Jalisco - a short article from the January 2009 Guadalajara Reporter it has a photo of this scorpion which I have not identified, nor do I recognize. The article say's that Jalisco is home to some of Mexico's most poisonous species, that Jalisco has more victims of scorpion bites than any other state in Mexico, 53,319 in 2008 (4 persons died), most of them by the coast in places like Puerto Vallarta and Cihuatlan.

It goes on to say "The most important factor in surviving a scorpion bite is rapid medical attention. Symptoms of a bite include swelling, distended abdomen, excessive salivation and difficulty talking. In severe cases, victims may suffer convulsions, temporary blindness, inability to swallow and vomiting". It also say's that all the clinics have anti venom for free and discourages self medication.

Be Careful (April 2008) - "Jalisco has at least four species of venomous scorpions (another article said eight). They are very active during March and April, and though they don’t live in your house, they do wander in for visits now and then. Be sure to check your shoes before you put them on, the side of the towel hanging next to the wall, beds that haven’t been slept in for a few nights and shelves you reach up to without being able to see the surface. If the worst does happen (and you’ll know what it is when it does happen), don’t panic. Adults are unlikely to die from the puncture; but it’s a good idea to get to the doctor as soon as possible."

On a side note It also say's to be careful of slippery roads from diesel and oil during the firs rains, to be extra careful about pets in cars due to the heat, to watch for pets that like to jump into the car while your unloading groceries etc.

Another caution was "while her husband was putting her luggage into the back of their van after she was returning from a trip, a man speaking very good English told him that he should check his front right tire as it was making a “hissing” sound. The woman’s husband followed the man around to the front of the van to check the tire. The light was bad so he walked back to the van and closed it up to move to a spot with better lighting so he could see the tire better. The tire was fine. Later, on the way home, his wife asked him if he had checked to make sure all the luggage was in the van before he closed it up. He hadn’t. The woman’s backpack that contained her purse and all of her documents was missing".

Another Guadalajara Reporter article titled "What Happens When A Scorpion Bites You" gives one persons experience of the big B movie kind. It also say's

Case studies

Out of 221 identified species in Mexico only eight are considered dangerous. More than 200,000 cases of scorpion stings occur in the country every year, with less than one percent resulting in fatalities. The months of May and June are considered as peak season. Jalisco is one of the states with the highest number incidents reported annually.

Human reactions to a scorpion sting may be as mild a localized pain and inflammation or as grave as convulsions, shock and cardiac arrest. The signs appear within a few minutes after the sting, normally progressing to a maximum severity within five hours with no apparent sequence. Symptoms generally last for 24 to 72 hours. Toxicity and duration of the symptoms depends upon a variety of factors such as the species of scorpion involved; its age, size and physical status; the number and site of the stings; the amount and composition of venom injected; the age, weight and state of health of the victim.

Treatment

It is important for the patient to remain calm to help control the heart rate and blood pressure and limit the spread of the venom. Apply ice to reduce pain and slow absorption of the venom. If possible, immobilize the affected part below the level of the heart. A professional medical evaluation is advisable in most cases, and urgent when there are any signs of respiratory distress.

Unless the patient has a known allergy to animal based serums, antivenin is the treatment of choice for severe reactions. It is most effective when applied within two hours after the sting occurs. The serum significantly reduces the level of circulating venom within an hour. The persistence of symptoms following the injection is due the serum's inability to neutralize toxins that have already bound to target receptors. The doctor may also prescribe analgesics, electrolyte drinks and other medications to alleviate symptoms.

Prevention

Scorpions are shy by nature and do not attack humans unless they are threatened. Since they are nocturnal creatures they are most often found on the move after dark. Daytime stings usually happen when they are disturbed in the cool, dark places where they tend hide. They have a low tolerance for heat and often rest inside cupboards, under beds, in cracks and beneath woodpiles, stones and vegetation. Carefully shake out shoes, clothing towels and bedding where they may be lurking. Regular fumigation with specific pesticides can help control proliferation inside and around homes located where scorpions are common".

HOT WEATHER SCORPION ALERT (April 2006) - Said that more people get stung due to skimpy clothing and going barefoot. That they reproduce en masse from April to October. Red Cross clinics, as well as private hospitals and clinics in the state also have the antidote. Juan Jesus Gonzalez Arroyo, who runs Jellico’s scorpion awareness program, says scorpions look for dark places to hide, such as closets and cracks in walls. They are often found hiding in shoes and clothing.............I remember this article being discussed on the message board but I do not have any of the messages saved, anyone?

In Case Of Emergency, Know Your Spanish - Some good points were........"I recommend patients carry a little card with their brief medical history, the medications they take, and any allergies they have. It's a good idea, especially if they get to a place they don't know."............. There are countless Spanish-English medical dictionaries online that will help you sort out your symptoms, especially if you have a chronic condition like hypertension or diabetes you'll need to explain to any doctor............Remember, the doctor is a respected individual and should be referred to as usted.

My notes: The Spanish word for Scorpion is Alacran, if you walked into a clinic with the scorpion that got you in a jar I am sure they would get the idea. But on describing the symptoms you are experiencing you may have a problem. If you know a friend who speaks both languages it may be a good idea to take them along to the Red Cross or clinic with you.

The Cusp Of May - had an interesting antidote..... "When a campesino gets hit by a black widow, a scorpion or by bees, the best thing to do up there in the middle of rocks, cactus and too much sun is cut a raw bean in half and swallow it with water. I know, I know. I didn't believe it at first, either, but it works for a lot of cerro folk. I certainly don't recommend it to any reader. Clearly not to anyone who has access to commercial anti-alacran medicine -- or even just a dose of antihistamine. But in an emergency in the middle of nowhere, with no medicine available, it's a better try than nothing.

Many Rural People Have Returned To Folk - recommended the same bean treatment and ..........."slicing a lemon in half, holding it over a fire with a fork, and when the exposed flesh of the fruit begins to turn brown, take it from the fire, let it cool a bit and rub it on the sting; the pain will go away".

Active Red Cross Volunteer Points Out Clinic's Needs - "Third on the wish list is a pulse oximeter, the machine that attaches to a patient's finger or toe to read the amount of distal oxygen in a patient's blood. The machine is considered critical for cardiac and respiratory patients as well as those stung by scorpions, people with possible overdoses and others. The machine enables caregivers to stay one step ahead of the patient taking a turn for the worse, instead of waiting and having to act after a medical crash".

Scorpion Alert (17 April 2004) - "Jalisco leads the nation in the number of registered sting victims, Gonzalez reports. With 48,454 cases in 2003, including four deaths, the SSJ anticipates an average of 4,000 victims per month this year. The books for 2004 show 12,000 cases to date, with no fatalities". (I wonder if there is a chart showing each years stats?).

"Although scorpion stings are rarely fatal, the most vulnerable victims are small children weighing under 30 pounds, senior citizens and persons who suffer chronic heart or respiratory ailments. Due to wider availability of anti-venom treatment, the SSJ official says the number of fatalities related to scorpion stings has dropped by more than 60 per cent since 1995 when the state recorded a total of 45 deaths".

"The most dangerous local species is centruroides sculpturatus, a small variety identified by a light yellow body and slender tail".

Rainy Season Is Scorpion Time - "Scorpions are not animals, they are insects – spiders, class Arachnida, order Scorpionia, family Buthidae or Chactidae.............Though some rural Mexicans are near yogic in some aspects, they tend to kill Alacranes with a flick of a finger. Scorpions, like all animals reptiles, birds and insects attack either out of fear or for food. A large human female does not fall into the food category for a scorpion. Thus, if it curls its tail to sting (scorpions do not bite), that means it is frightened and trying to defend itself. Rural folks here scare the arachnid into making a run for it, straightening its segmented, needle-tipped tail to cut for safety.

My friends simply snap the insect on its vulnerable head with a finger nail.

Many campesinos, whose hands are so heavily calloused that the needle-like stinger of an alacran doesn't penetrate the horny skin, simply pinch off their toxic tails. (Don't try this unless you've been doing rough handwork some time and callouses on your fingers are good and thick.) For all others, if hit by an alacran, it is best to quickly get an injection or take in pill form Alacrmyn - though antihisimines such as Cloro-Trimeton or a hefty dose of cortisone will usually work just as well. Many people have antihistamines in their medicine cabinet.

Few of my Mexican friends possess such extensive medicine cabinets, and doctors usually are too far away and, in their eyes, too untrustworthy. They swallow a split raw frijol with a glass of water. To take pain from of any sting, alacran, bee or black widow, cut a lemon in half, scorch it over a flame, cool until mildly hot, rub it on the wound.

Symptoms vary with the species. (The state of Durango alone has 36 different species: the United States 20.) Scorpion stings are truly painful and, if you're sensitive to such toxins, can cause your throat to constrict and make breathing difficult. Some experience nausea, dizziness, writhing, double vision, rapid heart beat. Panic amplifies these symptoms. Though the toxin can be lethal for the very young, the elderly, and those with allergies, in 39 years I know of only three infants and an elderly man in poor health to die of scorpion stings. But it's wise not take chances.

Yet in a long career of carelessness and considerable field work, I've been hit maybe 20 times and took antihistamine only the first couple of times. That's because once I un alertly stuck my hand into a hidden nest of Alacranes, and the campesino working with me asked, "Le pico?" as I shook my hand furiously. When I nodded, he laconically said, "Chupalo" – "Suck it" – and went on working. So I did, and despite the pain, worked through the day without losing pace.

Panic, never the answer to anything, can produce false symptoms. A friend got hit on his first visit to Mexico. He panicked, had to be taken to the doctor, got two injections – one a sedative – and put to bed. The next time he got hit, I applied some calming talk a scorched lemon and he continued his vacation day. If stung, you may feel like you want to die, but chances are you won't develop serious symptoms. Take antihistamine, get to a good doctor, clench you teeth and think about something else"

Christmas With A 'small Spoon - "buying petroleo -- kerosene. The ranch family with whom I work clean their red-tile floors with it to discourage scorpions and similar pests."

Medicinal Cures For Travel Ailments - "Mexican drug stores sell anti-alacran (scorpion) medicine. Any antihistamine can counteract a scorpion sting, and usually a black widow bite. At the ranch where I perform morning chores, we use half a sliced lemon, scorched over a fire, to rub on alacran stings. It eases the pain, but not other symptoms. For that, local folk medicine calls for gulping a split raw bean (frijol). Sounds too simple to work but it does".

NAYARIT NOTES - Scorpion Stings Concerns have been voiced about scorpions, the toxicity of their stings and treatment. This information is excerpted from a wilderness first aid pamphlet. Anti-toxins are available for severe reactions although the pain is usually no more severe than that of a bee sting and first-aid measures are often adequate.

First aid for any scorpion sting involves cooling the wound with ice or cool running water. A wet compress can help. The cooling allows the body to more easily break down the venom. Keep the victim calm and still; panic and activity speed up the spread of the venom. Extreme reactions include heavy sweating, difficulty swallowing, blurred vision. jerky reflexes, respiratory distress and/or loss of bowel control. These are all serious signs and professional medical attention is necessary.

Scorpions all sting with the tip of their "tail," which is the last few segments of their abdomens. Sizes of scorpions vary from less than two centimeters to 20 centimeters; all have crab-like pincers used to hold and tear apart prey and insects are their primary food source. In North America only one species is a known killer of humans, the centruroides, which is found in the southwest United States and Mexico. These are usually straw yellow or yellow with dark longitudinal stripes and range from two to 7.5 centimeters in length. Pincers are long and slender. Deaths have been almost exclusively among the very young or elderly or severely allergic".

Scorpions, Alacranes, Colotls -

"As (fields) are being burned off, re-fenced and early rains arrive, the dry-season nests of scorpions are being scorched, dug up, washed out. That sends Alacranes (as they are called in Spanish) into the bodegas, garages and closets of nearby homes.

Doctor

This is the time of year when country folk check their shoes and clothing before putting them on. And though they can seem terribly casual about getting to a doctor when bit by an alacran, most people who don't have considerable experience with scorpion stings shouldn't be. It is wise to use a tourniquet, if possible, to stop the venom from spreading, stay quiet and "get to a doctor," as this newspaper reported two weeks ago.

A doctor may inject you with Alacrmyn. As long-time Colony REPORTER medical advisor Irma Ceja noted in the May 27 article, antihistamine, or hefty doses of cortisone, also work. Antihistamines are my preference because almost everybody has them in some form or another among their medicines, and you can give repeated dosages. Experience has taught me to carry antihistamine whenever setting off for field work with campesinos who are up in their years or who bring along children. The elderly and the very young tend to be highly susceptible to scorpion venom. Of course anyone who has severe reactions to insect, particularly bee or wasp, stings should have a supply of antihistamines around.

Some of these evil-spirited characters grow to be nine inches long or more, but they need not be large to pack a wallop. Colotls have up to 12 eyes, the better to see their prey, and their breathing pores are in their stomachs.

They flourish a pair of long, strong pincers which are not poisonous, but are actually part of a complex mouth used to seize and crush the large insects and other spiders that make up their food supply.

A scorpion's primary weapon is a curved needle-tipped organ at the end of its tail, which is whipped up over its body at its prey or enemy. Two glands at the base of this organ squirt toxin through twin pores into its target. Rural folk wisely tend not to swat at crawlies, but to brush them off and stomp on them. If you swat an alacran with your hand, you'll get stung (scorpions sting, they don't bite).

One campesino associate carefully kills the alacran that stings him, and if he starts getting a pronounced reaction, splits open the spider and binds it to the wound. Another splits open an uncooked frijol and drinks it with water. Though I've never tried this, because I don't have faith that it'll work, the remedy appears to serve him well. The pain clearly goes away, and no other symptoms develop. Another friend grinds a clove of garlic and drinks it with water.

Other remedies

Other traditional remedies: make a poultice of powdered construction lime - cal - and lemon juice, apply it to the wound; burn the yellow flower of the Santa Maria plant and apply it to the sting; and then there is a list of remedies utilizing human excrement that tends to turn the stomachs of city readers.

Try this for pain

But there is one local remedy for the pain of an alacran sting I recommend, because it works well: cut a lemon or lime in half, scorch the meaty surface over a flame, cool it a bit and rub on the wound. It won't cure severe systemic symptoms, but sure lessens the pain. It also serves well for the stings of bees, wasps, etcetera."

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Other articles said - that the beginning of the rainy season was Scorpion time............that you should try to save and bring with you the Scorpion that stung you......small ones are more potent............don't walk around barefoot at night............check your slippers before putting them on.................that some people pick live scorpions up by the tail!............That you should be really careful in cases of multiple stings................Don't forget the Red Cross, the closest one to us is in Cihuatlan, next to the bus station which is about 1/2 way through town on the right side heading South (on the way to the airport)..............covering exterior brick walls that let in the cold and provide ideal breeding grounds for spiders and scorpions"..............You can see most Scorpions easily with a black light, unless they have recently shed their skin.

Mexican tailless whip scorpions

The Cave Of The Left-handed Man - "In this room we saw several very large tindarapos or Mexican tailless whip scorpions (Acanthophrynus coronatus) which have fierce claws and big fangs but are harmless to humans."











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