Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS)-based characterization of U.S. non-native venomous snake exposures, 1995-2004

Steven A. Seifert, Jennifer A. Oakes, Leslie V. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background. Non-native (exotic) snake exposures in the United States have not been systematically characterized. Methods. The Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) database of the American Association of Poison Control Centers was analyzed to quantify the number and types, demographic associations, clinical presentations, managements and outcomes, and the health resource utilization of non-native snake exposures. Results. From 1995 through 2004, there were 399 non-native exposures in the TESS database. Of these, 350 snakes (87%) were identified by genus and species, comprising at least 77 different varieties. Roughly equal percentages of snakes originated in Asia, Africa and Latin America, with a smaller number from the Middle-East, Australia, and Europe. Nearly half were viperids and a little more than a third were elapids. The vast majority of exposed individuals were adults. However, almost 15% were aged 17 years or less, and almost 7% were children aged 5 years or younger. Eighty-four percent were males. The vast majority of exposures occurred at the victim's own residence. Over 50% were evaluated at a healthcare facility, with 28.7% admitted to an ICU. Overall, 26% of patients were coded as receiving antivenom treatment. Coded outcomes were similar between viperid and elapid envenomations. There were three deaths, two involving viperid snakes and one elapid. Enhancements to the TESS database are required for better precision in and more complete characterization of non-native snake envenomations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-578
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Exotic species
  • Snakebite
  • Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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