The city of Aswan in Southern Egypt has experienced heavy rains and flooding in the last few days. This already concerning event – unprecedented for a city that receives on average 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) of rain per year – had another serious, and in a few cases fatal, consequence: scorpions.
The floods disturbed the nests of scorpions in the region, many of which found refuge in higher ground, including people’s homes. It has been reported by Egyptian media that at least 453 people have been stung by these animals, with three of them, unfortunately, dying from the venom.
The region is home to the Androctonus crassicauda, also known as the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion, whose venom is a deadly collection of neurotoxins, cardiotoxins, and possibly myotoxins. On top of the intense pain, redness, and swelling of the sting, the fast-acting poison leads to heart malfunction, internal bleeding, visual disturbance, and respiratory problems. Without treatment, an adult can die in just an hour.
Doctors have been moved from COVID-19 vaccination units to respond to this singular emergency, the Egyptian Ministry of Health has confirmed.
Antivenom is available in hospitals and medical units in Aswan, and extra-doses have been dispatched to medical units in villages near the mountains and desert, the undersecretary of the health ministry in Aswan, Ehab Hanafy, told news outlet Al-Ahram.