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Pediatric scorpionism in northern Amazonia: a 16-year study on epidemiological, environmental and clinical aspects

posted on 24.03.2021, 11:05 by Jules Vaucel, Remi Mutricy, Maëlle Hoarau, Jean-Marc Pujo, Narcisse Elenga, Magali Labadie, Hatem Kallel

Abstract Background: The Amazon basin is one of the seven major geographical areas where scorpionism is recorded. In French Guiana, 90 stings per 100,000 inhabitants are registered per year. As the severity of cases is higher in children, descriptive studies are needed to have a better understanding of this pathology. The aim of the present study is to describe pediatric scorpionism in French Guiana. Methods: We conducted a monocentric descriptive retrospective study on scorpion stings in all pediatric patients admitted to Cayenne General Hospital from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2018. Results: In this survey, 132 patients were included. Of them, 63% were male. Patients with general signs of envenomation were younger and lighter (p = 0.04). The picture was “one sting” (95.3%) by a “big” (47.6%), “black” (60%) and “small pincer” (58%) scorpion on the extremity of the body (84%). Stings occurred mainly during the day, while patients changed clothes. There was no envenomation during night. The monthly evaluation highlights that the number of stings and percentage of general signs of envenomation were closely connected to a composite variable including the variation of the level of rivers (p = 0.005). Cardiac symptoms were recorded in 82% of cases with general signs of envenomation. The presence of pulmonary; ear, nose, and throat (ENT); or gastrointestinal symptoms are related to major envenomation (p = 0.001, p = 0.01, and p = 0.02 respectively). Leukocytosis and glycemia increased according to the envenomation grade whereas serum potassium and alkaline reserve decreased. Forty-six patients needed hospitalization and seven of them required intensive care. No patient died nor presented sequelae at discharge from the hospital. Conclusion: Pediatric scorpionism in French Guiana is closely associated with child activities and climatic conditions. Severe envenomation presented most of the time with cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal symptoms.