Bite or Sting? Call 1-800-222-1222

Pam Boedeker

SaddleBrooke Nature Club welcomed back speaker Liz Barta. Liz is with the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. She educates the public about poisons and drugs and where help can be found.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center started in the 1950s with hundreds of index cards accumulated as people called in with concerns about poisons. The center has grown to a call center receiving 135 calls a day from across the nation. Pharmacists specially trained in toxicology answer calls 24/7. The public and medical professionals can get help at this number.

The Poison Control Center also has a website, is on Facebook and has a Pregnancy Risk Line. The center watches calls that might indicate a trend such as an unusual number of calls from a particular area or from a particular toxin.

In 2015 there were 179 calls about snake bites. The center has an anti-venom index that can help emergency room physicians determine if anti-venom is needed and where it can be located.

Our days are getting warmer and snakes will be on the move. Some precautions include: walk at least two to three feet around a snake. Wear boots and long pants. Watch where you put your hands. Dead snakes can bite! Use a light at night. Rattle brush with a stick before entering.

Rattlesnake bites are rarely fatal. In Arizona the death rate is 1%.

If you are bitten there are some dos and do nots:

Do move as little as possible to keep the venom from spreading in your bloodstream.

Do splint the limb that has been bitten.

Do remove jewelry and shoes as there will be swelling.

Do call 1-800-222-1222.

Do go to a health care facility.

Do not move fast.

Do not use ice or electricity.

Do not suck on the wound.

Do not constrict the area.

Do not take medicine or alcohol.

The Poison Control Center got 1,694 calls in 2015 regarding scorpion stings. Arizona is honored to have the most medically significant scorpion, the Bark Scorpion. Most healthy adults who are stung can call 1-800-222-1222 and be given instructions with no need to go to the ER. However, small children or adults with health problems can experience significant symptoms including breathing problems, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, unusual eye, head or neck movements. In those cases hospital care is necessary.

The FDA has just approved a treatment for Bark Scorpion stings! Anascorp is made in Mexico from the plasma of horses immunized with scorpion venom.

Liz had slides of many potentially poisonous desert creatures and some of the victims’ wounds. Her messages were that most of these stings or bites could have been prevented by being cautious and that most of these stings or bites can be treated at home.

SaddleBrooke Nature Club meets the second Monday of the month in the Coyote Room downstairs at the HOA 1 clubhouse. For further information go to the website