Snakes….I mean scorpions on planes…

A Vermont man on a flight home from Chicago was stung twice on the leg by a scorpion – the second such incident to take place in a week.

David Sullivan, 46, was aboard the United Airlines flight on the second leg of his Jan. 3 trip home from San Francisco, where he and his wife Helena had been visiting their sons. He awoke from a nap shortly before landing and noticed something strange.

“My right leg felt like it was asleep, but that was isolated to one spot, and it felt like it was being jabbed with a sharp piece of plastic or something.”

The second sting came after the plane landed and the Sullivans were waiting for their bags at the luggage carousel. Sullivan rolled up his cuff to investigate, and the scorpion fell out.

“It felt like a shock, a tingly thing. Someone screamed, ‘It’s a scorpion,’ ” Sullivan recalled. Another passenger stepped on the five-centimetre-long arachnid, and someone suggested Sullivan seek medical help.

He scooped up the scorpion and headed to the hospital in Burlington. His wife stopped at the United counter and was told the plane they were on had flown from Houston to Chicago. The Sullivans surmised the scorpion boarded in Texas. 

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the incident “is something that we will investigate and look into. We’re very sorry for what happened. Our customer safety and security is our No. 1 priority.”

It was the second scorpion-related airline incident to take place this week. On Sunday a scorpion stung a man on board a Toronto-bound flight, causing an hour-long delay at Pearson airport.

The arachnid apparently got through security in Costa Rica in the man’s carry-on knapsack, said airline officials.

The man, who is expected to make a full recovery, was preparing to return to Canada from a Costa Rican camping trip with his brother when the scorpion crawled into his bag undetected.

Scorpion stings are rarely fatal, except to babies or older people with health problems, said Dr. Stephen Leffler, director of emergency services at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital.

For a healthy adult, a scorpion sting can mean numbness or shooting pain extending out from the site of the strike, or flu-like symptoms, which Sullivan said he had the next day.

Is this a new type of terrorism?