Richard Thompson Attacked by Arthropod

I’m a Richard Thompson fan, and my husband tipped me off on his recent adventure in Mexico–he was stung by a Centruroides scorpion:

“Throbbing pain in the bones of the right arm. Numbness and prickling in the right arm. Small spots of intense pain on the wrist and arm. Numbness in all fingers and toes. Numbness in the lips and scalp. Feeling of gravel in the throat. Everything tasted intensely salty – mineral water from a bottle was almost undrinkable. All these symptoms receding after a couple of days, just leaving complete numbness in the envenomed finger. Strange hallucinations (!)

I went to the reception of the hotel, and asked the clerk what to do for a scorpion sting. He looked incredibly uninterested, and shrugged, and said that I could put ice on it. (I later found out he’d been stung 33 times!)”

In general, the smaller the scorpion, the more potent the venom–they need more of a punch to immobilize their victims (usually smaller arthropods). Thompson’s experience is pretty typical, except for the hallucinations. Um, those may have been from another source (*cough*).

Centruroides venom works by blocking K+ channels–which pretty quickly immobilizes a whole bunch of cellular processes. Humans are big enough, and have good enough circulation, that generally we aren’t killed like a smaller insect would be. Allergic reactions do happen, so people can die from these bites; and small children and babies can’t clear the toxin from their system well, so should get medical treatment.

Fortunately, Thompson got good advice–put ice on it, and kick back.

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