Objective: Identify factors associated with scorpion stings among farm workers who pick corn in the Mexican state of Guerrero.
Material and methods: Cross-sectional survey in 14 randomly selected communities in the state of Guerrero.Simple frequencies were obtained and bivariate analysis was used to identify factors associated with scorpion stings while picking corn. Odds ratio was estimated to evaluate the magnitude of the effect.
Results: The incidence of scorpion stings was 15% (500/3 294) in 2003. Use of gloves was associated with a dramatic reduction in risk of scorpion stings to the hands (OR = 0.11; IC95% 0.06-0.18). Scorpion stings are a frequent occupational health issue for farm workers. If the results of this survey were reproduced in an unbiased trial, the implication would be that gloves could prevent 133 stings per 1,000 farm workers who currently do not use gloves. The cost of medical attention, transportation and time away from work due to a scorpion sting totaled 505.90 pesos (46 US dollars).
Conclusions: The use of gloves by farmers who live in regions where scorpions are endemic should be promoted. The supply network for anti-scorpion serum should also be extended to all rural areas where very toxic species are predominant and farmers should be educated about the importance of seeking timely medical care at health clinics.