Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Stung by a scorpion - Our Life in Costa Rica

Scorpion stings in Costa Rica have been referred to as...A rite of passage!

Yes, it finally happened. Yesterday morning I heard this blood curdling yell coming from the other room and Lavanson was running out with a horrified look on his face, holding his finger and stomping on the floor making the loudest noise I have ever heard. I actually thought he had been electrocuted or had cut off his finger. He then yelled and motioned "scorpion" and pointed to the bedroom. I ran in and found a scorpion lying on a blanket on our bed. This was the blanket I use to cover the dog crates each night. I had only minutes before taken it off of their crates and tossed it onto the bed. He had gone in to make the bed and the scorpion must have been jumbled up inside and stung him.

I went in and quietly (so as not to disturb the scorpion) folded the blanket edges over each other to contain it. I then put the whole thing inside a plastic garbage bag and we took it outside. I dumped it on the ground and with the broom handle located the scorpion inside the blanket. I guess I could have just let him go but my adrenalin (and vengeance) made me beat it with a big stick I had found near by (after spraying him to death with Raid). I then carefully swept it over to the edge of the property and into the coffee grove.

Then back to the house to research what to do about the sting.

First he washed his finger with warm soap and water and then we made an ice pack and he applied it 10 mins on and 10 mins off. He said his finger was a little numb and tingly. We were going to also use lavender essential oil (which is good for pain) but after a few rotations of the compress, his finger was beginning to feel better. Ammonia was also suggested to relieve pain but we had none. We have been taking Liposomal Vitamin C, so he took 4 doses (1 every hour) for 4 hours. In a few hours he was completely back to normal (finger in picture below) I asked him what it felt like and he said like a knife was stabbing him in the arm and certainly must worse than a bee sting! 

What you need to know about scorpions in Costa Rica

Scorpion bites can and do happen, but the good news is they are only painful (apparently very painful) in the short term. 

There are 14 scorpion species in Costa Rica, none of them are deadly, most of them only delivering a bee sting type wound.

Scorpions are night hunters. They are nocturnal, and spend their daytime hours in hiding. They are very sensitive to sun radiation and would die after a short while. This is why they hide during day under stones or in caves. After sunset they leave their home and go hunting for food. Never walk barefoot at night.

Scorpions are carnivorous, and often eat small arthropods.  Most stings that humans encounter happen in the daytime when disturbing a resting scorpion.

When they catch prey, they will kill it in one of two ways. First, they will use their pincers to crush the prey if they can. Second, they will use their stinger to inject their prey with a neurotoxic venom. After they have killed their prey, they will take it apart with their pincers and eat it in pieces. Scorpions sting with their tail.

For most people no medical treatment is required unless someone begins to experience an 'allergic reaction', that is, difficulty breathing, swelling in the face or throat, etc. then the injection is usually one of epinephrine, to reverse the allergic (anaphylactic) reaction. 

In Costa Rica you can obtain treatment at a local farmacia where they are able to give shots. 
Most farmacias here in Costa Rica have doctors on staff, or licensed pharmacists. They can write prescriptions, and give shots. 

So there you have it! This is the 3rd scorpion we have seen since being here. I think it's time for fumigation as this is the season when they are out. 

And lastly, I was so frightened when Lavanson got stung and so relieved when he quickly recovered and really, really thankful that it wasn't me, because it really could have been!! I would probably still be screaming!!
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