Scorpionism and Dangerous Species of Colombia

  • Jimmy Alexander Guerrero-Vargas
  • Javier Rodríguez Buitrago
  • Santiago Ayerbe
  • Eduardo Flórez Daza
  • JoséToribio Beltrán Vidal
Living reference work entry


Scorpionism is the disease caused in human beings by a scorpion sting. Depending on the severity of the sting, it can produce multiorgan system failure and death and is a public health problem worldwide with a high incidence and varying degrees of severity. But that in Colombia is a neglected health problem. The lack of awareness of the risks connected with scorpion accidents in Colombia has brought as a consequence the underestimation of this type of accident from the person who suffers it to the health professionals themselves. This too is worryingly reflected in the forming of mistaken diagnoses, in the administering of inadequate therapeutic measures, and in the lack of government programs aimed at preventing it. The systemic clinical symptoms associated with the envenomation caused by Colombian scorpions have been observed in some experimental studies, reports, series of cases, and observational studies and are related to processes of neurotoxicity, characterized by hyperactivity and intense and persistent depolarization of the autonomic fibers with the consequent massive release of neurotransmitters. These elements have been described previously for other species of scorpion of medical importance worldwide, such as Leiurus quinquestriatus, Androctonus australis, Tityus serrulatus, T. discrepans, and Centruroides exilicauda, among others. Severe scorpionism in Colombia is caused not only by T. pachyurus but also by seven species C. edwardsii, C. margaritatus, T. asthenes, T. forcipula, T. fuhrmanni, T. pachyurus, and T. n. sp. aff. metuendus, and the scorpion T. columbianus is ranked as a dangerous species.


Medical Importance Right Bundle Branch Blockage Scorpion Venom Scorpion Sting Venomous Animal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Arenas C. Determinación de las alteraciones electrocardiográficas causadas por el veneno del escorpión Centruroides margaritatus en ratas Rattus norvegicus Cepa Wistar. Universidad del Cauca, Colombia; 2010. p. 109.Google Scholar
  2. Ayerbe S, Rodríguez J. Accidente escorpiónico. In: Correa L, Berdejo J, Mora V, Sánchez D, Gutiérrez M, editors. Guías para el manejo urgencias toxicológicas. Bogotá: Ministerio de la Protección Social; 2008. p. 294–9.Google Scholar
  3. Barona J, Otero R, Núñez V. Aspectos toxinológicos e inmunoquímicos del veneno del escorpión Tityus pachyurus (Pocock) de Colombia: capacidad neutralizante de antivenenos producidos en Latinoamérica. Biomédica. 2004;24(1):42–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barona J, Batista CVF, Zamudio FZ, Gomez-Lagunas F, Wanke E, Otero R, Possani LD. Proteomic analysis of the venom and characterization of toxins specific for Na+ – and K+ – channels from the Colombian scorpion Tityus pachyurus. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006;1764(1):76–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beltrán J, Arenas C, Coral R, Hurtado F, Morales-Duque H, Sarmiento B, Torres M. Efectos cardiacos del veneno del escorpión Tityus pachyrus. Informe técnico, Universidad del Cauca, Colombia; 2011. p. 60.Google Scholar
  6. Botero-Trujillo R, Fagua G. Additions to the knowledge of the geographical distribution of some Colombian Scorpions (Buthidae). Rev Ibérica Aracnol. 2007;14(31):129–34.Google Scholar
  7. Botero-Trujillo R, Flórez E. A revisionary approach of Colombian Ananteris (Scorpiones, Buthidae): two new species, a new synonymy, and notes on the value of trichobothria and hemispermatophore for the taxonomy of the group. Zootaxa. 2011;2904:1–44.Google Scholar
  8. Botero-Trujillo R, Erazo-Moreno M, Pérez G. A new species of Microtityus Kjellesvig-Waering (Scorpiones: Buthidae) from northern Colombia. Zootaxa. 2009;2120:27–38.Google Scholar
  9. Chippaux JP, Goyffon M. Epidemiology of scorpionism: a global appraisal. Acta Trop. 2008;107(2):71–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. D’Suze G, Salazar V, Díaz P, Sevcik C, Azpurua H, Bracho N. Histopathological changes and inflammatory response induced by Tityus discrepans scorpion venom in rams. Toxicon. 2004;44(8):851–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. D’Suze G, Sevcik C, Brazon J. Fisiopatología inducida por alacranes del género Tityus de Venezuela. In: D’Suze G, Corzo G, Paniagua J, editors. Emergencias por Anim. ponzoñosos en las Américas. México: Dicresa, SA de CV; 2011. p. 31–64.Google Scholar
  12. de Armas LF, Luna-Sarmiento D, Flórez E. Composición del género Centruroides Marx, 1890 (Scorpiones:Buthidae) en Colombia, con la descripción de una nueva especie. Boletín la Soc Entomológica Aragon. 2012;50:105–14.Google Scholar
  13. Dueñas-Cuellar R, Hoyos L, Carvajal S, Guerrero-Vargas JA. In-vivo evaluation of cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of Centruroides margaritatus scorpion venom. XVI world congress of the international society on toxinology. Biodiversity in toxins tools biological research drug development; Pernambuco; 2009.Google Scholar
  14. Fet V, Sissom WD, Lowe G, Braunwalder ME. Catalog of the scorpions of the world (1758–1998). New York: New York Entomological Society; 2000. p. 690.Google Scholar
  15. Flórez E. Escorpiones de la familia Buthidae (chelicerata: scorpiones) de Colombia. Biota Colomb. 2001;2(1):25–30.Google Scholar
  16. Flórez E, Sánchez C. La diversidad de los arácnidos en Colombia. In: Rangel CJ, editor. Colomb. Divers. Biótica I. Bogotá: Editorial Universidad Nacional de Colombia; 1995. p. 327–72.Google Scholar
  17. Gómez JP, Otero R. Ecoepidemiología de los escorpiones de importancia médica en Colombia. Rev Fac Nac Salud Pública. 2007;25(1):50–60.Google Scholar
  18. Gómez JP, Otero R, Núñez V, Saldarriaga M, Díaz A, Velásquez M. Aspectos toxinológicos, clínicos y epidemiológicos del envenenamiento producido por el escorpión Tityus fuhrmanni (Kraepelin). MEDUNAB. 2002;5(15):159–65.Google Scholar
  19. Gómez JP, Quintana JC, Arbeláez P, Fernández J, Silva JF, Barona J, Gutiérrez JC, Díaz A, Otero R. Picaduras por escorpión Tityus asthenes en Mutatá, Colombia: aspectos epidemiológicos, clínicos y toxinológicos. Biomédica. 2010;30(1):126–39.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Guerrero-Vargas JA, Rodríguez JR. Geographical and altitudinal distribution of scorpionism in Colombia. The 17th congress of the European section of the international society on toxinology; Valencia; 2011. p. 196–8.Google Scholar
  21. Guerrero-Vargas JA, Ayerbe S, Rada-Mendoza M, Vélez P, Beltrán J, D’Suze G, Fontes W, Sousa M, Castro M. Preliminary Toxinological Characterization of the venom from the Scorpion Centruroides margaritatus (Buthidae, Gervais, 1841) of the Patía River Valley, Colombia. J Venom Anim Toxins Incl Trop Dis. 2007;13(1):228.Google Scholar
  22. Guerrero-Vargas JA, Libério M, Castro MS. Aplicación biotecnológica de la Toxinología: La importancia del veneno de escorpiones y la secreción cutánea da anuros. Innov Cienc. 2008;15(2):16–25.Google Scholar
  23. Guerrero-Vargas JA, Kushmerick C, Moraes E, Naves L, Sousa M, Fontes W, Castro M. Peptidomic analysis of the venom from the Colombian scorpion Centruroides margaritatus: isolation and characterization of MgTx2, a new K+-channel blocker. XVI world congress of the international society on toxinology. Biodiversity in toxins tools biological research drug development; Pernambuco; 2009.Google Scholar
  24. Guerrero-Vargas JA, Mourão CBF, Quintero-Hernández V, Possani LD, Schwartz EF. Identification and phylogenetic analysis of Tityus pachyurus and Tityus obscurus novel putative Na+-channel scorpion toxins. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30478.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gwee MCE, Nirthanan S, Khoo H-E, Gopalakrishnakone P, Kini RM, Cheah L-S. Autonomic effects of some scorpion venoms and toxins. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2002;29(9):795–801.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Inceoglu B, Lango J, Jing J, Chen L, Doymaz F, Pessah IN, Hammock BD. One scorpion, two venoms: prevenom of Parabuthus transvaalicus acts as an alternative type of venom with distinct mechanism of action. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2003;100(3):922–7.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Izquierdo LM, Rodríguez Buitrago JR. Cardiovascular dysfunction and pulmonary edema secondary to severe envenoming by Tityus pachyurus sting. Case report. Toxicon. 2012;60(4):603–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kattan G, Franco P, Rojas V, Morales G. Biological diversification in a complex región: a spatial analysis of faunistic diversity and biogeography of the Andes of Colombia. J Biogeogr. 2004;31:1829–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Khattabi A, Soulaymani-Bencheikh R, Achour S, Salmi L-R. Classification of clinical consequences of scorpion stings: consensus development. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2011;105(7):364–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lourenço WR. Nouvelles additions a la faune de scorpions neotropicaux (Arachnida). Rev Suisse Zool. 2002;109(1):127–41.Google Scholar
  31. Lourenço WR. Nouvelle proposition de découpagesous-générique de genre Tityus C.L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones, Buthidae). Boletín Soc Entomológica Aragon. 2006;39:55–67.Google Scholar
  32. Marinkelle CJ, Stahnke HL. Toxicological and clinical studies on Centruroides margaritatus (Gervais), a common scorpion in western Colombia. J Med Entomol. 1965;2(2):197–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Morales-Duque H, Gonzáles F, Caldas L, Beltrán J, Guerrero-Vargas JA. Some biological activities from the venom of the scorpion Tityus sp. Come from the southwestern of Colombia (Popayán). XI Congr. da Soc. Bras. Toxinologia. Toxinas Nat. Conhecimento Atual e Novos Desafios. Araxá-Minas Gerais-Brasil; 2010.Google Scholar
  34. Murthy R. The scorpion envenoming syndrome: a different perspective. The physiological basis of the role of insulin in scorpion envenoming. J Venom Anim Toxins. 2000;6(1):4-51.Google Scholar
  35. Otero R, Uribe F, Sierra A. Envenenamiento escorpiónico en niños. Actual Pediátricas. 1988;8(3):88–92.Google Scholar
  36. Otero R, Navío E, Céspedes FA, Núñez MJ, Lozano L, Moscoso ER, Matallana C, Arsuza NB, García J, Fernández D, Rodas JH, Rodríguez OJ, Zuleta JE, Gómez JP, Saldarriaga M, Quintana JC, Núñez V, Cárdenas S, Barona J, Valderrama R, Paz N, Díaz A, Rodríguez OL, Martínez MD, Maturana R, Beltrán LE, Mesa MB, Paniagua J, Flórez E, Lourenço WR. Scorpion envenoming in two regions of Colombia: clinical, epidemiological and therapeutic aspects. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2004;98(12):742–50.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pineda D. Picaduras de escorpión. In: Pineda D, editor. Accid. por Anim. Venen. Bogotá: Instituto Nacional de Salud de Colombia; 2002. p. 194.Google Scholar
  38. Pineda D, Castellanos JA. Escorpionismo en Girardot Hospital San Rafael. Trib Médica. 1998;98(1):19–28.Google Scholar
  39. Rodríguez J. Determinación del efecto histopatológico causado por el veneno del escorpión Tityus Pachyurus (Buthidae), en ratones cepa ICR. Universidad Nacional de Colombia; 2008. p. 194.Google Scholar
  40. Rodríguez-Vargas A. Comportamiento general de los accidentes provocados por animales venenosos en Colombia entre 2006 y 2010, atendidos en el Centro de Investigación, Gestión e Información Toxicológica de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Universidad Nacional de Colombia; 2012. p. 74.Google Scholar
  41. Stockmann R, Ythier E. Scorpions of the world. Verrières-le-Buisson: N.A.P. Editions; 2010. p. 572.Google Scholar
  42. Teixeira AL, Fontoura BF, Freire-Maia L, Machado CR, Camargos ER, Teixeira MM. Evidence for a direct action of Tityus serrulatus scorpion venom on the cardiac muscle. Toxicon. 2001;39(5):703–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yugandhar B, Radha-Krishna-Murthy K, Sattar SA. Insulin administration in severe scorpion envenoming. J Venom Anim Toxins. 1999;5(2):200–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jimmy Alexander Guerrero-Vargas
    • 1
    • 2
  • Javier Rodríguez Buitrago
    • 3
  • Santiago Ayerbe
    • 1
  • Eduardo Flórez Daza
    • 4
  • JoséToribio Beltrán Vidal
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Investigaciones Herpetológicas y Toxinológicas (GIHT), Departamento de BiologíaUniversidad del CaucaPopayánColombia
  2. 2.Grupo de Investigaciones en Salud Pública del Cauca (GISPUC), Secretaría Departamental de Salud del Cauca (SDS)PopayánColombia
  3. 3.Facultad de Medicina, Fundación Universitaria SanitasBogotáColombia
  4. 4.Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Grupo de Investigación Arácnidos de ColombiaUniversidad Nacional del ColombiaBogotáColombia

Personalised recommendations