While scorpion stings are not a regular occurrence in the United States, they are frequent and deadly in underdeveloped and tropical countries, such as our neighbor to the south, Mexico. Over a million scorpion bites are recorded each year around the world, and now a treatment has been found to counteract the venomous bite of the Centruroides scorpion.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved Anascorp, the first specific treatment for the Bark scorpion sting. Anascorp, Centruroides (Scorpion) Immune F(ab’)2 (Equine) Injection, is made from the plasma of horses immunized with scorpion venom.
The effectiveness of Anascorp was based on results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 15 children with neurological signs of scorpion stings. These signs resolved within four hours of treatment in the eight subjects who received Anascorp, but in only one of the seven participants who received the placebo. The most common side effects were vomiting, fever, rash, nausea, itchiness, headache, runny nose, and muscle
“This product provides a new treatment for children and adults and is designed specifically for scorpion stings,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “Scorpion stings can be life-threatening, especially in infants and children.”
In the United States, venomous scorpions are primarily found in Arizona. Severe stings occur most frequently in infants and children, and can cause shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs, breathing problems, excess saliva, blurred vision, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, abnormal eye movements, muscle twitching, trouble walking, and other uncoordinated muscle movements. Untreated cases can be fatal.
Arizona’s two poison centers document about 11,000 scorpion stings each year; 17,000 stings were reported to U.S. poison centers nationwide in 2009.
Anascorp was developed in Mexico, where approximately 1,000 deaths due to scorpion stings are recorded each year. The drug was developed and has been used in Mexico for a number of years, according to University of Arizona researchers who led the U.S. study of the drug.
Researchers began studying the drug in Arizona hospitals in 2004 and found it to be highly effective against the sting of the bark scorpion (also called the Arizona bark scorpion)—the most poisonous scorpion in the U.S.
Jude McNally, the medical science liaison at Rare Disease Therapeutics, says the Tennessee company will market the new drug to any health care facility that accepts emergency patients in areas were the bark scorpion is found. That’s Arizona, as well as areas of Clark County, Nev., and parts of New Mexico where the bark scorpion has established colonies, he says.
What to Do if Bitten by a Scorpion:
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center says most stings to healthy, young adults can be managed at home with basic first aid and follow-up. Victims should:
If a child is stung or the victim experiences severe symptoms, go to a medical facility immediately. If the child is under 5 years old or if an older patient is experiencing more than minor discomfort, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.