An experimental anti-venom has been found effective in protecting children against scorpion sting, say researchers.
Lead researcher Dr Leslie Boyer, director of the VIPER (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response) Institute at The University of Arizona College of Medicine examined 15 children admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit following a bark scorpion sting.
They were experiencing abnormal eye movements, uncontrolled thrashing of limbs and respiratory distress - all symptoms of nerve poisoning.
In the study, eight of the children, most of whom were under 6 years, received a scorpion antivenom and seven other participants received a placebo.
The researchers found that symptoms of nerve poisoning were resolved in all of the children treated with the antivenom in less than four hours, and usually within two hours.
The children who received the placebo continued to experience nerve poisoning for four hours or more and required large doses of sedative medication and extended hospitalization.
"This study told us that the dangerous effects of bark scorpion venom can be reversed quickly with the right antivenom," said Dr. Boyer.
"One hundred percent of the children who received it got better very quickly, meaning that using this antivenom in the emergency room will make intensive care treatment unnecessary for most patients.
"This is particularly important in small Arizona towns without pediatric intensive care units. By avoiding helicopter trips and intensive care stays, we can save lives and keep treatment costs down at the same time," Boyer added.