Scorpion stings on the rise

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The summer heat is bringing out the critters.

Staff at the Arizona Poison and Drug Control Center say scorpion stings are among the most frequent calls they are getting these days.

Mazda Shirazi, the Medical Director at the Center said they typically received about 2,500 scorpion related calls a year.  This year, so far they have already received 2,100 calls.

Shirazi himself was familiar with the sting of the scorpion.

"I put my finger in a rock and immediately knew something got me.  I felt  sharp pain going through my fingertip up to my shoulder.  It lasted a good eight hours."

Thanks to plenty of advanced medicine and new anti-venin that had just been approved by the FDA, Shirazi said most scorpion stings were easily treated.  Some adults showed no symptoms at all.  The pain subsided after a few hours.

Shirazi said about 15% of victims actually had to be hospitalized.  Most of them were children under the age of five, and babies.

The most deadly Scorpion found in Arizona, the Bark Scorpion delivered a doze of neurotoxins that some people did not handle well.

"They sort of get tremors under the skin.  Their nose runs, they foam at the mouth, they start shaking uncontrollably and are unable to move or control their hands."

Poison Control center employee Chris Coriaris said he had suffered a scorpion sting twice.

"The first time, I was getting into bed, it stung me right around the waist.  The pain is really sharp, like a burning sensation.  It's burning hot."

Coriaris was able to put an ice pack on it and recover.

Staff at Truly Nolen, a pest extermination company said scorpion calls are keeping them on the run.

Just at one office on Speedway Boulevard, staff respond to at least ten Scorpion related calls a day.

Ray Marshall, a sales representative said the first calls usually came from the Foothills area, where the landscape was scorpion friendly.  They liked to settle in rocky areas.

Ray said homeowners could take some simple steps to keep their homes Scorpion free.  Keeping debris piles and wood piles away from the home, making sure there was no source of running water for scorpions on the property, and controlling the population of Crickets around their home was a good start.

"You want to reduce their hiding areas, reduce the moisture, and reduce the food source," said Ray.

Most scorpion problems were treated with a mixture of glue traps, sand and spray solution, but Ray said homeowners needed to do their part to help take care of the problem in the long term.

The reassuring news, staff said despite the thousands of stings that are reported, no fatalities have been reported here in Arizona.