the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Super Scary Scolopendra

As usual, while in the village we had to use the Akha Ambulance to take two women down to the hospital in Mae Chan.

One of the women has been having stomach discomfort for some time, and since the antacids she has been taking have not helped, she needed a more qualified opinion. She is now on a stronger antacid and will return again later this month for further evaluation.

The second woman, however, had a much scarier experience.

Early in the morning, while walking into the jungle to collect her firewood for the day, this woman stepped on something that stung her foot. As her foot began to swell, the men from the village came to explain to me what had happened and that she needed medical help. They kept telling me the name of the animal that stung her, but I was unfamiliar with the word in Akha.

Then they all remembered that one of the Akha boys, Asalo, had captured one of these animals that morning and had put it in a bottle. They ran off to his house and came back with the meanest looking bug I have ever seen. An 8"-long centipede with a body as thick as a quarter, bright red hind legs and inch-long stingers.

This is footage of the Scolopendra centipede of Thailand that I found on YouTube.
Notice the coloring in the legs and those nasty stingers.
These things are monsters!

Armed now with the general knowledge of what we were dealing with, we rushed her down to the Emergency Room in Mae Chan. After some translation help from an Akha friend we were able to communicate to the Thai nurses what had bit her so they could administer the appropriate treatment.

Since then, we have learned more about the Scolopendra: Giant Centipede of Thailand:
Though their stings are poisonous, they are not deadly if there is no allergic reaction.
The sting is terribly painful because of the depth of the puncture and the amount of poison. A painkiller, such as Paracetamol, should be administered quickly.
There is no specific antidote for the poison, but an antihistamine should be administered as quickly as possible to keep the reaction and swelling down and the person who has been stung should go to the hospital for further treatment.

The woman is now home recovering, as it is several days to weeks before the swelling and pain are completely gone, and we now have one more little bit of knowledge in our arsenal as we try to care for the physical well-being of our Akha friends.

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