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Amazonian scorpions and scorpionism: integrating toxinological, clinical, and phylogenetic data to combat a human health crisis in the world’s most diverse rainfores

Adolfo Borges1,2, Matthew R. Graham3, Denise M. Cândido4, Pedro P. O. Pardal5 [ + show more ]

J Venom Anim Toxins incl Trop Dis, 2021, 27:e20210028
Received: 11 March 2021 | Accepted: 21 May 2021 | Published online: 29 November 2021
Collection: Arthropods: venoms and biology


Venom from Amazonian scorpions of the genus Tityus contains components capable of eliciting a distinct clinical, mostly neurological, syndrome. This contrasts with the mainly autonomic manifestations produced after envenomation by congeneric southern and northern South American species. Herein, we summarize Pan-Amazonian scorpionism by synthesizing available toxinological, clinical, and molecular data gathered from all affected areas in Amazonia, including Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and French Guiana. We searched multiple databases, as well as our own records, for reports of scorpion envenomations in Amazonia by confirmed Tityus spp., and compared the clinical manifestations. To help uncover clinical and venom relationships among problematic species, we explored phylogenetic relationships with a rate-calibrated analysis of mitochondrial COI data from available species. The possible existence of diversity gradients for venom toxic and immunogenic components despite the predicted strong phylogenetic association among species is underscored by discussed clinical and toxinological findings. A multicentric effort, involving all nations affected by this neglected disease, is urgently needed to offer alternatives for treating and understanding this pathology, including the preparation of neutralizing antibodies with a broad range of efficacy.


Keywords: Amazonia; Scorpionism; Scorpion antivenom; Tityus.

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