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Arizona poison center sees rise in scorpion stings as season begins

(Public Domain Photo)

PHOENIX — The sweltering Arizona summer heat means the return of venomous scorpions the state is known for, and the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center is seeing a sharp increase in sting calls from last year.

“This is their season so we expected to see this increase, however, we are … 18% higher than what we were compared with last year,” Maureen Roland, the center’s managing director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

Roland is attributing the rise in cases to more people staying at home and socially distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

This is only the start of scorpion season, as Roland said July, August and September are the peak for stings.

She says people are typically stung when they are getting out of the bed in the morning and not looking where they are going, or heading out to the pool where scorpions love to hang around.

Arizona is home to 60 species of scorpions, including the most common and dangerous known as the bark scorpion.

Roland says the bark scorpion can be found in the bark of trees, logs or piles of leaves.

A sting from a bark scorpion is very painful and can cause numbness and tingling that can travel through the body, according to the release.

Roland advises people that are stung by a scorpion to call the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222 to receive medical advice and what to watch out for from the organization’s registered nurses and pharmacists.

“There are varying degrees of venom reaction on the body, so some people have a mild reaction where some people can have a more severe reaction,” Roland said.

She says the main concern for scorpion bites is in children under six years of age, as they tend to have more severe reactions.

Safety measures include teaching children not to pick up animals around the house, shaking out shoes before putting them on, wearing shoes or flip flops while outside and being alert in the evening and morning since scorpions are nocturnal.

People can help keep scorpions away by clearing debris from the home, using pest control and sealing cracks or other openings.

Roland said people can also carefully scan for scorpions with a black light as their bodies will glow.

Even if a person isn’t stung, Roland says people can call the center to find out information on what to do to keep themselves safe from scorpions if they are found around the home.

Poison centers nationally are seeing a 20% increase in scorpion sting calls to their centers, according to the release.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report. 

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