Risks to Infants on Guam from Bites of the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis)

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  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Museum of Natural History, Division of Aquatic Resources and Public Health Division, Washington, DC

The brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis, is abundant on Guam and commonly invades human habitations. Data on emergency room visits on Guam document a high freguency of snakebites on Guam. Over 50% of the emergency room visits for snakebite involved children <4 years old. Records exist of 4 infants, 1, 2, 5, and 10 months old, who displayed significant symptoms after being bitten, while sleeping, by snakes. Two infants developed respiratory problems within a few hours and required medical treatment for asphyxiation. Lethargy, diminished sensory perceptions, drooping eyelids, swelling, discoloration, and bleb formation were variable in occurrence in the patients.