Intended for healthcare professionals


Research into scorpion stings

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 05 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c7369
  1. Edward J Mills, Canada research chair in global health1,
  2. Nathan Ford, medical coordinator2
  1. 1University of Ottawa, Ottowa, ON, Canada K1N 6X1
  2. 2Médecins Sans Frontières, Access to Medicines Unit, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. edward.mills{at}

Lack of funding and global investment are denying patients evidence based interventions

With the growth of global health schools and programmes at most universities in developed counties and the interest in neglected tropical diseases, it should follow that common medical conditions in developing settings are being researched.1 However, this is not so for scorpion stings, snake bites, and other animal envenomations. In the linked randomised clinical trial (doi:10.1136/bmj.c7136), Bawaskar and Bawaskar compare the effectiveness of scorpion antivenom plus or minus prazosin for the treatment of scorpion stings.2 The trial is a reminder that global health researchers often neglect conditions that matter to large impoverished communities.


Of around 1500 species of scorpions worldwide, around 30 are potentially dangerous to humans.3 About 1.2 million scorpion stings occur worldwide each year, of which roughly 3250 are fatal. The incidence and severity vary geographically, with reported incidence among the general population …

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