A seven-year-old boy in Brazil suffered seven cardiac arrests when he was stung by one of the most dangerous scorpions in the world while putting on his shoes.
Luiz Miguel Furtado Barbosa died on 25 October in a hospital, two days after he was stung by a Brazilian yellow scorpion or Tityus serrulatus – a species with extremely toxic venom which is blamed for thousands of deaths in the country.
The family of four that lives in Anhembi city in Sao Paulo state was preparing for a camping trip on Sunday morning last week.
But Luiz Miguel, who was looking forward to the adventure because he loved water, was wearing his shoe to get ready when the scorpion stung him, his mother Angelita Proença Furtado told Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
“As soon as he put it on, he screamed in pain. As we didn’t find what had stung him, we kept looking. But his leg started to turn red and he said that the pain was rising,” she said.
They frantically searched the house to understand what bit the boy.
Some five minutes after the boy was stung, Ms Proença Furtado and her husband Eraldo Barbosa saw the dreaded yellow scorpion and took their son to Hospital das Clínicas de Botucatu, where an antivenom for scorpions would have been available.
The mother, referring to her son’s nickname, said Miguelzinho suffered four cardiac arrests at the paediatric unit of the hospital. Doctors told the parents it would not be possible to reverse the damage.
Ms Proença Furtado said she lost all hope for his recovery and recalled: “When I entered the room to see him after what happened, I placed my hand on his head and gave him with all my heart to his true owner. I said just like this: Lord, he’s yours! Take him with you and take care of him. May your will be done, not mine.”
But the next day, the boy’s condition seemed to improve as he opened his eyes and tried to talk to her. Luiz Miguel, however, had to be sedated again as he was very agitated.
The boy suffered three more cardiac arrests on Tuesday after which his condition began to deteriorate, leading to his death on the same day.
Ms Proença Furtado said this was the “worst moment of my life”. She and her husband had fallen on their knees at the hospital to pray for their son’s survival.
Remembering her son on the day they were preparing for camping, the mother said: “He, as usual, was very anxious. He seemed to want to live everything he had to live in a single day.
“Today, I realise that it’s as if he was really in a hurry to live.”
The Anhembi city council declared a three-day official mourning over the boy’s death and published a condolence note on Instagram.
Deaths involving scorpion bites are not uncommon in Brazil. The number of people stung by deadly yellow scorpions have seen a tenfold increase since 2000. From 12,000 accidents in 2000, cases surged to 156,000 in 2018, according to Brazil’s health ministry.
The species is parthenogenetic, meaning a female can give birth without needing a male partner, producing up to 30 copies of herself several times a year.
Scorpion populations have grown over the years. The lurking predator has been found in places like supermarkets, homes, schools and even in the Brazilian Senate.
Their growth has partly been blamed on the climate crisis, causing hotter and wetter conditions that prove to be an excellent habitat for the scorpions.
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