Local News

Scorpion stings employee at Cameron Village Harris Teeter

Posted July 28, 2016 10:01 a.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2016 4:51 p.m. EDT

— A Harris Teeter employee was stung by a scorpion on Wednesday inside the supermarket chain's Cameron Village store in Raleigh.

Spokeswoman Danna Robinson said in an email that the Matthews-based company is investigating how the scorpion got inside the store. It was unclear where the scorpion was found, but Robinson said it was caught and killed.

"Harris Teeter deeply regrets this unfortunate, rare incident occurred in our store today," she said. "We are thankful our store management team acted quickly to seek medical attention for our valued associate. We are staying in close contact with our associate as well as conducting a thorough investigation to determine how the scorpion came to be inside the store and explore ways to prevent this from happening again."

Wake County EMS was called to the store and treated the employee. Authorities said scorpion stings hurt, but the venom usually isn't deadly.

According to medical website Medscape, only four people nationwide have died from scorpion stings in the last 11 years. Only one of 30 scorpion species found in the U.S. is dangerous to people, and less than 1 percent of stings from that species are fatal to adults.

"They do pack a bit of a sting, and so you do have to be worried, especially if you are sensitive to things like bees and wasps and other types of insects," said Mike Waldvogel, an extension associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University.

Waldvogel said scorpions and spiders get to the state from tropical areas by hitchhiking on bananas and other imported produce.

"It certainly could come from another country, but I wouldn't be surprised if came out of a state like Florida or Georgia," he said.

As a precaution, Waldvogel said store workers should wear gloves when unpacking boxes of items shipped from or stored in tropical areas. But shoppers don't need to, he said.

"I don't think I'd be wearing gloves in the grocery store. I want to be able to touch the fruit I'm going to buy," he said.

Witnesses said the Harris Teeter worker was near the bananas in the Cameron Village store's produce section when stung, and shoppers at the store Thursday said that they weren't overly concerned by the incident.

"I think it was kind of a freak accident, rare occurrence. I don't think it would stop me from shopping here," Will Creech said.

Amy Kennemur said she might think twice about reaching for produce, however.

"I think I would absolutely, probably be a little more cautious," Kennemur said.