Scorpion envenomation and serotherapy in Morocco.

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  • 1 Institut Pasteur du Maroc, Casablanca, Morocco.

A clinical and biologic study was conducted in Morocco to assess the efficiency of antivenom therapy for treating victims of scorpion stings. Epidemiologic and clinical data were collected from 275 patients envenomed by Androctonus mauretanicus mauretanicus and Buthus occitanus scorpions. Patients received antivenom or other drugs. Blood samples were collected at the time of hospital admission and 1 hr and 3 hr after treatment. Serum venom levels were quantified by using an ELISA. An association was found between clinical signs of envenoming and the level of venom in serum. Patients classified as grade II (moderate envenoming) had higher serum levels of venom level than patients classified as grade I (mild envenoming). At admission to the hospital, the mean venom concentration was not significantly different between the group not treated with antivenom, the group who received 2-5 ml of antivenom, and the group who received 10 ml of antivenom. A significant decrease in serum venom levels and an improvement in the clinical conditions were observed in patients administered 10 ml of antivenom. The lower decrease in serum venom levels in patients who received 2-5 ml of antivenom was due to lower doses of antivenom. No difference in the venom concentration was observed in patients who were not treated with antivenom. The absence of administration of antivenom increased the risk of developing clinical signs at the end of the hospitalization period. However, this risk was much higher when more than 1 hr elapsed between the time of the scorpion sting and the time of hospital admission. The results demonstrate that antivenom is effective in decreasing circulating venom and morbidity. Serotherapy is more efficient when given as soon as possible after envenomation and with adequate quantities of antivenom.