Recent scorpion attacks have led to two child fatalities in Córdoba and the hospitalisation of a five-year-old boy in Buenos Aires, after being stung in Palermo. “This seems to be the most serious case in Buenos Aires. In 2009 there was a similar but more moderate case involving a young girl” said specialist, Rodríguez Gil.
Although scorpions typically live in the central and northern regions of the country, where temperatures and humidity are at their highest, between spring and summer it is not uncommon to see them in the Capital. Between 2006 and 2016, 88,000 cases of scorpion attacks were reported in the city, resulting in more than 50 deaths
“They appear more in areas near Subte lines and in older areas of the City. Therefore there are more in areas such as Palermo and Villa Crespo. Also their presence increases when construction work is being done in the area. One fact is that they can survive for a long time in the water” expert, Adolfo de Roodt told La Nación. Also “they are able to scale onto the 7th or 8th floor of buildings because of their claws” said another expert.
It is believed that they entered Buenos Aires on ships and trains that transported wood for construction from the Mesopotamia area of Argentina at the start of the 20th Century. The dangerous species’ venom has the most serious effects on children and the elderly.
“In the Capital [Buenos Aires], there are two species of scorpions, the Bothriurus bonariensis and the Tityus trivittatus. The first is not harmful and has been in the area before the founding of Buenos Aires. Today it resides in some national parks and is very rare to spot. The Tityus trivittatus is dangerous and is becoming increasingly common. Its sting can be fatal for those aged below five or six” explained biologist, Andrés Ojanguren.
One major deterrent is to eliminate cockroaches. “If there are no cockroaches there are no scorpions” said head Toxicology in the Hospital Fernandez to Télam.
Here are some government guidelines to prevent scorpion attacks.
- Inspect and shake clothing and footwear
- Shake and check bedding before sleeping
- Take care when examining drawers and shelves
- Avoid walking barefoot in high risk areas
- Put screening on drains around the house
- Check the inlets and outlets of pipes, openings and crevasses
- Put down mosquito netting over doors and windows
- Repair and fill cracks in walls and roofs
- Check underground piping, plumbing, basements, elevator shafts and wall cavities
- Periodic cleaning of outdoor space
- Control the trash to reduce the number of insects (spiders and cockroaches) that feed scorpions
- Avoid the build up of construction materials, rubble, firewood and fallen leaves, as these are common places where scorpions can breed and live. Avoid doing yard work with bare hands
- Keep domestic poultry — ducks, geese and chickens are natural predators of scorpions
- As a last resort and with expert advice, use low toxicity pesticides with the aid of trained professional. Never apply pesticides without having first followed the recommendations on preventing the problem first
Scorpions can live in rural spaces (underneath tree bark, rocks and bricks) or urban spaces (basements, tunnels, storage areas and piping).
If stung, don’t try to treat it at home. Apply ice and seek medical assistance as quickly as possible. If you are able to bring the scorpion into the hospital with you that will help medical staff identify which species it is and what the best treatment options to provide is.