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2006, Cilt 30, Sayı 3, Sayfa(lar) 239-245
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Androctonus crassicauda (Olivier 1807) Scorpionism in the Sanliurfa Provinces of Turkey
Ozcan OZKAN1, Sühendan ADIGÜZEL1, Selçuk YAKIŞTIRAN1, Yıldırım CESARETLİ1, Mehmet ORMAN2, K. Zafer KARAER3
1Refik Saydam Hygiene Center, Poison Research Center; Ankara
2Ankara University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Department of Statistic, Ankara
3Ankara University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Department of Entomology and Protozology, Ankara
Keywords: Scorpion; Androctonus crassicauda; Turkey; scorpionism; epidemiology; clinical symptoms
Abstract
In this study, the epidemiology and clinical findings of scorpion stings in the Şanlıurfa province of Turkey was evaluated between May and September 2003. Data obtained from questionnaires was evaluated and the identification of scorpions collected from the region was carried out in the laboratory. It was determined that of the species of scorpions only Androctonus crassicauda was collected. This species plays the major role in 50.8% of scorpionism cases. This study also showed that intoxications caused by A. crassicauda in southeast Anatolia region were seen in the summer during the hot months especially in August. Females and people above 15 years of age were the most affected and they had been stung on the extremities. In clinical evaluations, it was found that 17.7% of the cases showed systemic effects and no deaths were reported. Also parasympathetic effects were more common in comparison to sympathetic effects.
  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Disscussion
  • References
  • Introduction
    Scorpions do not harbor agents of disease. However, they are medically important arthropods since they cause envenomations by stinging humans, most of the time to protect themselves 33,34.

    Scorpion venom contains shorts neurotoxin polypeptides consisting of low molecular weight simple proteins with lethal and paralytic effects 22,30,32,35,49,51. Several studies on scorpion sting cases emphasized that various clinical pictures are seen ranging local symptoms to serious autonomic and central nervous system symptoms, death due to cardio and respiratory failure especially in children 1,7,8,12,16,18,21,22,26,28,32,35,43.

    Among 1500 species described, venoms of 50 species are dangeours for humans and most of these species belong to genera Buthus, Parabuthus, Mesobuthus, Tityus, Leiurus, Androctonus, Centruroides family of Buthidae 9,13,17,18,33,35,45,49. Among these species, Tityus serrulatus, T. bahiensis are common and lethal scorpion species in South America, especially in Brazil; Centruroides suffusus, C. limpidus, C. sculpturatus in Mexico; Leiurus quinquestriatus, Androctonus crassicauda, A. mauretanicus, A. australis, A. amoreuxi, Buthus occitanus in the Middle East and North African countries; Parabuthus granulatus, P. transvaalicus in South African countries; Mesobuthus tamulus and Palamneus swammerdami in India 9-11,20,30,33,34,41,42,45,50.

    Scorpions and human envenomation cases are common in Turkey due to its geographical locations, climate and socio-economical structure. Scorpion envenomation is important health problem in all regions and especially in South-eastern Anatolia 33-35. Important scorpions threatening public health in Turkey are A. crassicauda, L. quinquestriatus, Mesobuthus gibbosus and M. eupeus of Buthidae family 33-37

    Several studies have reported that the scorpion species A. crassicauda are common in South-eastern Anatolia region, especially Şanlıurfa and Mardin provinces, M. gibbous in Aegean and Middle Anatolia regions, M. eupeus in Eastern and South-eastern Anatolia regions and L. quinquestriatus in Adıyaman province 2,14,19,33,35-37,44,45.

    This study aims to evaluate the epidemiology and clinical findings of A. crassicauda scorpionism common in Şanlıurfa, a province in the southeast of Turkey.

  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Disscussion
  • References
  • Methods
    This prospective study was based on the 598 subjects from Şanlıurfa city and its districts which applied to the provincial healthcare facilities in Şanlıurfa with scorpion stings from 1st of May 2003 to the first week of September 2003.

    A questionnaire was distributed to physicians in provincial healthcare facilities to collect patient data (name, age, sex, scorpion identification date of sting, location of sting in the body and clinical manifestations). Scorpion [color of scorpion] identification was made according to the color of scorpion defined by the patient.

    This study was carried out on the 299 patients with complaint of Black Scorpion, A. crassicauda, sting. Data obtained from questionnaires of these patients were analyzed with SPSS software using analysis of Pearson's chi-square method. Values obtained were considered to be significantly different if P< 0.05 (All data were analyzed Department of Statistic, Ankara University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine).

    Within the scope of the study, scorpions were collected from the area at different times, transferred to the laboratory in 70% alcohol, and their species identified with common identification techniques (14, 31, 37) using a stereomicroscope, to identify scorpion species of the province and specifically those defined as black and yellow by the patients in their questionnaires.

  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Disscussion
  • References
  • Results
    Laboratory identification of the 32 scorpions collected from the area, which were reported as black scorpions by the patients, showed that they belong to A. crassicauda (Figure 1).


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    Figure 1: A. crassicauda in Turkey by Ozkan (2003)

    Analysis of questionnaire data revealed that 299 of the 598 scorpion stings resulted from black scorpion A. crassicauda (50.8%), the species identification being confirmed by the laboratory. 152 of the cases (25.8%) were reported as yellow scorpion stings; within the scope of the study, laboratory identification of these species was not carried out, however literature data 14,19,35,33 shows that M. eupeus known as yellow scorpion is common in Şanlıurfa region. In 138 of the cases (23.4%), color distinction of scorpions involved could not be made by the patients (Figure 2).


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    Figure 2: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to color of scorpion

    The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to month of sting, sex and body location is given in tables and figures. The figure 3 shows that out of the 299 skorpionism cases 279 took place in the summer period (93.4%) the monthly distribution being as June (32.8%), July (22.1%), August ( 38.5%). 18 of the cases were encountered in May (6%) and 2 in September (0.7%).


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    Figure 3: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to monthos of stings

    It is also seen from the table that women were more liable to scorpion sting than men, the cases being reported as 61.9% for women and 38.1% for men (Table 1).


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    Table 1: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to sex of patients

    With respect to age groups, it is shown the 15 – 30 age group has faced more scorpion sting (34.1%) than the other groups the distribution being 24.1% for the 0-14 age group, 23.7% for the 30-44 age group and 18.1% for 45 and over age group (Figure 4).


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    Figure 4: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to age of patients

    The body locations of stings given in the table are 48.5% for upper extremities and 41.1% for lower extremities (Table 2).


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    Table 2: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to body location of sting

    Analysis of the data in records of the healthcare organization of Şanlıurfa province has alarm that in the 299-scorpionism cases caused by A. crassicauda the local and systemic symptoms have appeared. The local symptoms were seen as pain, hyperemia, swelling, burning, numbness, itching in the ratio of 97.3%, 86.0%, 66.6%, 8.0%, 0.7% and 0.7%, respectively (Table 3).


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    Table 3: The distribution of the scorpion sting cases according to local and systemic symptoms

    The incidence of blushing in July and August (P= 0.006) and burning (P= 0.000) in August being higher than the other months (May, June and September) was found statistically significant. On the other hand, the difluences in the local symptoms with respect to age groups and sex were not significant statistically.

    The records of the healthcare organizations have also shown that the systemic symptoms in the 299 A. crassicauda scorpionism cases were in general drying of the mouth (11.4%), thirst (11.4%); hypotension (8.9%), sweating (8.4%) and nausea (7.7%). Occasionally hypertension (4.1%), tachycardia (2.5%), difficulty in breathing (2.3%), vomiting (2.0%), lacrimation (1.3%, restlessness (1.3%) increase of secretion (< 0.5 %) were added (Table 3). Nausea ( P= 0.025) and sweating (P= 0.032) in the 30 - 44 age group was seen more often than the other age groups and this was found statistically significant. Differences between the monthly and sex related systemic symptoms were found non- significant statistically.

  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Disscussion
  • References
  • Discussion
    Scorpions are arthropods with length of which changes from 13 to 220 mm, so they are easily recognizable because of their morphologic structures 33,34. Scorpions live mostly under ruins and stones in day times because they have no tolerance to high temperatures in hot seasons, by this way they protect themselves from high temperatures. Scorpions become active at night and sting for their own protection against human 15,33,46.

    Soker and Haspolat 44 reported that 64 children cases with scorpion sting admitted to Pediatric Emergency Department in Dicle University Hospital in the southeastern part of Turkey during 1995-1999 were examined retrospectively and Altınkaynak et al., 2 24 children with scorpion stings were investigated retrospectively in Marmaris State Hospital between 1994 and 1999. There are no epidemiological and clinical researches on general scorpionism and about the importance of A. crassicauda stings in Turkey up to now. In our study, 598 scorpion sting cases seen in Şanlıurfa were investigated between May and September 2003 where patients had medical care and were followed in healthcare facilities.

    This study shows that 50.8% of all cases were affected by A. crassicauda. This percentage is 70% in Saudi Arabia 15 and 41% in Iran 40.

    Envenomation by arachnids causes significant medical illness worldwide. Scorpion sting is the most important arachnid envenomation causing adult morbidity and pediatric mortality 2,24,44. Scorpion envenomation remains a real health problem in developing countries especially in tropical, subtropical and also urban regions 7,8,16,29,32. Radmanesh 40 published that there were many scorpion stings in urban region in hot seasons and especially child deaths were seen due to scorpion toxicities in Iran. In a similar way, most scorpionism cases were seen in summer times in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco, when compared to the other months 4,13,18,21,23,38. In this research also the most scorpion stings were seen as 93.4% in the summer months when the temperature was 40 – 45 ºC; the monthly ranges being 32.8%, 22.1%, 38.5% in June, July and August respectively.

    Typical effects of this venom were severe pain around the sting area, anesthesia and severe neurological effects. Children below 5 years of age and 20-25% of infants showed widespread hyperemia and most of the children below 11 years of age showed hypertension. Irritability with central nervous system effects were seen in most of the children and infants 13. In this study, the patients were grouped as 0-14, 15-29, 30-44 and over 44 ages. This is because we did not see signaficant differences between in the 0 - 5 age intervals. The literature data state that in Morocco 15 - 29 age group was influenced the most and ages 44 and over the least by scorpion stings 21. In this study also similar results have been found for the same age groups.

    In Saudi Arabia, scorpion stings have been mostly seen in patients of the age of 15 and over 4,23. Our study has similar results. The reason for this is considered to be due to the fact that the young population in this region work in agricultural fields and collect scorpions for economic reasons.

    Epidemiological studies have shown that the ratio of patient affected by their extremities (hand, arm, leg, thigh, foot) is 86% in Saudi Arabia 4, 83% in Argentina 15 and 85% in Egypt 18. In this study, 89.6% of the patients had scorpion stings in their extremities such as hand, arm, leg, thigh and foot. Scorpion sting was reported to be seen mostly in the upper limbs in Morocco 21,46 and Brazil 38 similar results were found in our study. The reason for the high ratio of scorpion sting in extremities is considered to be due to the socio-economic structure depending on agriculture in rural areas of Şanlıurfa province, wearing sandals in warm season, walking by bare foot (especially children), putting on shoes without pre-shaking, hand searching for scorpions in their homes, lifting up stones in a non controlled manner, waiving hands during sleep or resting to move away scorpions. The stings in the head, neck and other locations of the body are mostly seen at sleep or resting because of putting on clothes without checking and also not controlled bed mattresses.

    In Egypt 18, Saudi Arabia 4, Argentina 13 and Brazil 38, epidemiological studies showed that most scorpion stings were seen in males but in our study this was different. The analysis of data showed that both in the total cases and in the monthly data, scorpion stings were seen mostly in females. It is thought that females have a high percentage when compared with males in population. Bergman 11 reported that scorpion stings were seen mostly in females in Zimbabwe. However, in a research made in two different regions of Morocco, scorpion stings in southwest regions were higher in males and in El-Kala, El-Jadida, Agdir and Tan-Tan regions it was high in females 21,46. This helps to realize that male-female distribution shows differences according to region as seen in our study.

    In addition to Turkey, A. crassicauda shows high distribution in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia 25,34,37. Toxicity of venom changes according to regions and species of scorpion 5. According to lethality tests, several LD50 values related to the same species were found. Although Ismail et al., 25 published that subcutaneous LD50 of A. crassicauda venom was 0.64 mg/kg, venom obtained from Latoxan laboratory had an LD50 value of 0.87 mg/kg. Altınkurt 3 reported that A. crassicauda species from Şanlıurfa region had intraperitoneal LD50 value of 11.5 mg/kg. Ozkan et al. 36 reported that A. crassicauda species from Şanlıurfa region had subcutan LD50 value of 2.68 mg/kg. Because of that in toxicities due to scorpion stings, local or systemic clinical effects could appear related to species of scorpion, feeding state, structure and amount of venom, number of stings, sensitivity of patient, age, weight and climate of the region 3,13,15,36,40. Soker and Haspolat (44) emphasized that 12.5% were dead in 64 children scorpion sting cases and also Altınkaynak et al., 2 stated that 8.3% were dead in 24 children scorpion sting cases in the west and southeastern part of Anatolia.

    In our study, no dead was recorded since 299 cases had cured efficiently with first medical aid, sympomatic treatment and antivenom (prepared by Refik Saydam Hygiene Center) which was more effective than a homologous antivenom in neutralizing venom of the Algerian species A. australis, and was equal to homologous antivenins in neutralizing of venoms of the Southern-European-North-African B.occinatus, and the South-American species T. serrulatus and T. bahiensis, in Anatolia L. quinquestriatus 47,48,50.

    On the other hand, antihistaminic, steroid, anelgesic were given to all patients in timely manner in healthcare facility since people of region knows what they will do and immediately look for the treatment of scorpion sting.

    Several studies were reported that scorpion venom in human was a powerful nervous system stimulant and these clinical effects were called “Autonomic or Sympathetic storm” and sometimes parasympathetic effects may become superior and also related to dose of venom, sympathetic activation in low doses and parasympathetic activation in high doses would appear and the clinical effects were characterized with mostly pain due to venom at low concentrations because venom could not stimulate acetylcholine receptors above threshold 15,22,39,40.

    In in vivo investigations scorpion venom causes acetylcholine secretion in presynaptic region so cholinergic effects appear and related to that effect by the way of stimulation of adrenergic receptors catecholamine is secreted continuously in adrenal glands and stimulation of post ganglionic receptors causes hypertension, sympathetic, parasympathetic effects, skeletal muscle and smooth muscle contractions and bronchoconstrictive effects appear 3,6,15,45. Radmanesh 40 described that venom of A. crassicauda was neurotoxic because of the stimulation of acetylcholine receptors all over the body.

    In this study, involving 299 A. crassicauda toxicity cases, patients showed local and systemic clinical effects. Parasympathetic (thirst, dry mouth, respiratory difficulty, nausea, vomiting, lacrimation, increase in bronchial secretion, hypotension) together with local effects characterized with severe pain, hyperemia and edema were seen dominant in toxicity cases.

    Results of this study showed that intoxications caused by A. crassicauda in Southeast Anatolia region were seen in summer and in hot months, especially in August. Females and males above 15 years of age were mostly affected and stung from extremities. In clinical evaluations, 17.7 % of cases showed systemic effects and no death, and also parasympathetic effects were superior to sympathetic effects.

    In many cases, the patients were stung by scorpions due to their lack of knowledge and carelessness such as in putting their hands into scorpion homes, walking bare foot, lifting up stones carelessly, putting on their clothes and shoes without shaking them to check for scorpions.

  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • References

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  • Top
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
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