On the noxious black amazonian scorpion, Tityus obscurus (Scorpiones, Buthidae): taxonomic notes, biology, medical importance and envenoming treatment

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Tityus obscurus has caused mild, moderate and severe accidents of medical relevance in the eastern Brazilian Amazon and French Guiana. Tityus obscurus has sexual dimorphism although males and females have uniform black coloration. In the Amazon, one of the habitats of this scorpion is seasonally flooded forests (igapós and várzeas). However, most stings occur in terra firme forest areas (non-flooded region), where most rural communities are located. Adults and children stung by T. obscurus may experience an “electric shock” sensation for more than 30 h after the sting. Our data shows that people inhabiting remote forest areas, including rubber tappers, fishermen and indigenous people, with no access to anti-scorpion serum, use parts of native plants, such as seeds and leaves, against pain and vomiting caused by scorpion stings. Although there is a technical effort to produce and distribute antivenoms in the Amazon, many cases of scorpion stings are geographically unpredictable in this region, due to the lack of detailed knowledge of the natural distribution of these animals. In this manuscript, we compile information on the natural history of T. obscurus and the impact of its envenoming on human health. We identify the natural sites that host this scorpion in the Amazon, in order to warn about the risk of human envenoming. The use of specific antivenom serum is the recommended treatment for accidents involving venomous animals. However, atypical symptoms not neutralized by the available commercial antivenom are reported in the Amazon region. Facing this scenario, we present some challenges to the study of venomous animals in the Amazon rainforest and possible experimental bottlenecks and perspectives for establishing a method aimed at producing an efficient antivenom.
Martins JG, Bordon KCF, Moreno-González JA., de Almeida BRR, Pardal PP.O., Lira AFA, et al. On the noxious black amazonian scorpion, Tityus obscurus (Scorpiones, Buthidae): taxonomic notes, biology, medical importance and envenoming treatment. Toxicon. 2023 Apr; 228:107125. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2023.107125.
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