Heavy rain and flooding in Aswan, Egypt, have driven drifts of scorpions to seek shelter in people’s homes.
Three people died and more than 400 were hospitalised across the governorate to receive anti-venom treatment after being stung by the panicking arachnids, according to state-run media.
However, acting Health Minister Khalid Abdel-Ghafar said in a statement that no deaths were reported from the stings.
The Ministry of Health has reassured the public that it holds a large enough stock of anti-venom, noting that 3,350 doses were available in Aswan.
The downpours and subsequent floods have also forced local authorities to suspend schools on Sunday, Governor Ashraf Attia said.
People who were stung by the scorpions said their symptoms included severe pain, fever, sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, and head twitching.
The Aswan mountains are home to the Arabian fat-tailed scorpion, or Androctonus crassicauda, which translates from Greek to “man-killer”. They are considered among the most dangerous scorpions in the world, with a highly toxic venom that could kill an adult within an hour of being stung. Their sting is known to cause several human deaths a year.
The scorpion is 8-10cm (3-4 inches) long and relies on vibrations and sound to locate its prey as it has poor vision, hearing and smell.
Photos and video footage circulating on social media showed flooded streets and damaged houses, vehicles and agricultural farms.
The Al-Ahram daily reported the deaths, citing Ehab Hanafy, the Health Ministry’s under-secretary in Aswan. It did not elaborate on the cause.
The rainfall also caused power outages.