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Arizona poison center researching scorpion stings, snake bites

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX — In addition to talking to people about poisons and drugs, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center also conducts research on scorpion stings and snake bites.

Dr. Daniel Brooks said the center’s research keeps a lot of people out of hospitals and saves doctors millions each year, especially because most people who are stung by a scorpion do not need to go to a hospital.

Brooks’ team can differentiate between people who can stay home and those that need immediate medical attention.

“We’re able to keep most of these people at home,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re like, ‘Scorpion? What?’ And the child’s crying, and their eyes start to move a little bit and they’re going to call 911.”

Brooks said the center he heads gets a lot of calls from doctors who need a little guidance.

“It’s not rare for us to get a call from an emergency department physician saying, ‘I just moved to Arizona, and I trained on the East Coast. My first patient is a scorpion sting! What do I do?’”

Brooks said his colleagues have learned snake bites can often be worse than they appear at first glance.

“You can have really lasting injury,” he said. “If you get bit in your foot, you could have leg swelling for weeks or months.”

Brooks said the center’s latest research was focused on snake-proofing homes and which bites should be treated with anti-venom.

“[Arizona doctors] may see one (bite) a year, maybe one every 10 years or maybe they’ve never seen one” he said. “It’s nice to get the poison center involved because we’ve taken care of five of them this week.”

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