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Mexican Living Survival Tip #6 - Medical Care

I am happy as a peacock to report that Mexico does not have much in the way of Creepy Dangerous Things that come out in the night to do you in while you sleep. There are, however, some things that can give one pause. Unlike Australia where there are many things to bite you, sting you, poke you, and generally make you die as the result of your encounter with them, Mexico is relatively safe. Mexico does have a few things that you probably do not want to encounter on a regular basis. Mexico has two lizards which are kissing cousins, The Gila monster (Heloderma suspectrum) and The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum). The Gila monster (take careful note of the word, “monster”) lives in the desert regions of Mexico.

The Mexican beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum)—horridum as in HORROR—is found from Mexico to South America. Both of these, while poisonous, are docile and do not seek you out to kill you. Many years ago when I was a college student, a student in one of the dorms kept one of these hideous lizards in his room in a fish tank. When his roommate would go home for the weekend, he would take his poisonous pet out of the tank and let it loose in the room so he could clean the tank in which the venomous beast slept. His roommate came back to campus earlier than usual and failed to warn his roommate.

The nasty creature was in his bed. The university student was bitten but survived the attack. Did I mention it is called, “(Heloderma horridum)—horridum as in HORROR”? “The venom apparatus is much less sophisticated than that of most venomous snakes. A pair of multilobed labial venom glands (modified submandibular glands) lie in the anterior portion of the lower jaw. Venom is conducted from each lobe through a duct and is deposited into a labial mucosal pocket adjacent to the anterior teeth. The teeth (approximately 20 per jaw) are grooved and loosely attached to the jaws. Venom is conducted via capillary action along these grooves into the victim's tissues as the lizard bites and chews. The more irritated the lizard is when it bites, the more it salivates and the greater the venom yield. Effective envenomation in humans probably occurs in less than 70% of bites. The venoms of these 2 lizards are relatively similar and contain a number of components, including hyaluronidase, phospholipase A, serotonin, and highly active kallikreins that release vasoactive kinins.

In laboratory animals, the venom is as potent as some rattlesnake venoms. Rare hyper-- sensitivity to helodermatid venom has been reported. Bites are very infrequent and usually involve captive specimens. It is probable that a significant number of bites go unreported because private keepers of these protected lizards may be reluctant to seek medical attention.” I would avoid these creatures if I were you. The second creepy creature that you are most likely to encounter in Mexico is your friend and mine: THE SCORPION! Mexico is host to the fifth most dangerous scorpion in the world. The most dangerous ones live in the Middle East. “They sting in self defence using their tail sting which in most cases is very painful rather than life threatening. However, potentially lethal scorpions do exist in Mexico, South America, The Caribbean, North Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent which can cause neurotoxicity with blurred vision and breathing difficulty, myocardial damage and pancreatitis. Immediate medical help should always be sought if bitten.

” The correct term should be, “stung”. Spiders bite. Scorpions sting. Scorpions are amazing creatures and beneficial to the environment. There are a few species that can kill you and should be avoided at all costs. Mexico has one of those species and they are not that uncommon! “You find scorpions (Buthotus species) in deserts, jungles, and forests of tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas of the world. They are mostly nocturnal in habit. You can find desert scorpions from below sea level in Death Valley to elevations as high as 3,600 meters in the Andes. Typically brown or black in moist areas, they may be yellow or light green in the desert. Their average size is about 2.

5 centimeters. However, there are 20-centimeter giants in the jungles of Central America, New Guinea, and southern Africa. Fatalities from scorpion stings are rare, but they can occur in children, the elderly, and ill persons.” There are two classes of poisons in the world of these vile creatures. One causes a sharp and very unpleasant pain like a bee or wasp sting. You could suffer death if you have an allergy to this venom. The other class of scorpion venom is somewhat akin to the neuro-toxic Coral Snake and Cobras. Isn’t that a lovely thought! “The symptoms resemble poisoning with strychnine and frequently death results. Many fatalities from scorpion stings occur in parts of Mexico.


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