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News Maryland Harford County Forest Hill

Boy bitten by copperhead in northeastern Harford

A camper was bitten by a copperhead snake Monday night at Camp Saffran on the Broad Creek Memorial Boy Scout Reservation in northeastern Harford County.

A 14-year-old boy was bitten on the ankle by the copperhead, according to Jenn Chenworth-Price of the Harford County Fire & EMS Association. Members of the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company responded to the camp, which is in the 1900 block of Susquehanna Hall Road in Whiteford. The boy was taken to a local hospital.

No further information was available on Monday's bite.

Only about one in 100 copperhead bites is fatal, naturalist Bob Chance said Tuesday.

"Every once in a while, about every five years, a camp has a legitimate bite, but it's not something to be overly alarmed about," Chance said. "It's not fatal, and it usually heals quickly. It's unfortunate, but nobody should overreact."

Copperheads are not common in Harford, though Chance did say pockets of them have managed to survive in a few areas of the county – off of Ruffs Mill Road below the Old Forge Hill Road Bridge, in the Broad Creek Valley and in some of the slate quarries.

Typically, bite wounds swell for about three days before they go away, Chance said.

An "older camper" at Camp Moshava, off Cherry Hill Road in Street, was bitten on the toe last year by a copperhead, the director of the Jewish camp, said at the time.

The camp director said at the time it was the first time the camp had seen such an injury in its 30 years in Harford County.

Maryland is historically home to two kinds of venomous snakes, the northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake.

Copperheads range in size from 4 to 36 inches, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website.

They live in forests, fields, swamps, dry sandy ridges near swamps and agricultural fields near woodlands. They are more common in forested rock outcrops of central and western Maryland than on the coastal plain, according to DNR, which warns: "This species is venomous! Do not attempt to capture. They will readily bite if provoked, and bites are extremely painful. Seek medical attention immediately if bitten."

Chance said the smaller the child bitten, the more serious the reaction. The copperhead discharges a hemotoxin venom, that destroys a body's tissues, rather than a neurotoxic venom that goes right to the brain.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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