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University of Arizona research on scorpion antivenom published in NEJM
Date:5/13/2009

TUCSON, Ariz. --Youngsters suffering severe nerve poisoning following a scorpion sting recover completely and quickly if a scorpion-specific antivenom is administered, according to a study conducted by researchers from The University of Arizona and reported in the May 14 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The article, "Antivenom for Critically Ill Children with Neurotoxicity from Scorpion Stings," recounts a study of 15 children conducted in Tucson, Ariz., during 2004 and 2005. All of the children had been admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit following a scorpion sting and were experiencing abnormal eye movements, uncontrolled thrashing of limbs and respiratory distress, all symptoms of nerve poisoning caused by the venom of the bark scorpion.

The principal investigator of the study and lead author of the article is Leslie Boyer, MD, director of the VIPER (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response) Institute at The University of Arizona College of Medicine and medical director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the UA College of Pharmacy.

In the study, eight of the children, most of whom were under 6 years, received a scorpion antivenom that is commercially available in Mexico but is considered an investigational drug in the United States and is not approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The seven other study participants received a placebo (a preparation containing no medication).

The 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,"
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Contact: Ginny Geib
geib@pharmacy.arizona.edu
520-626-3389
University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy
Source:Eurekalert

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