Copperhead Envenomation

Envenomation by copperheads usually gives rise to fewer systemic clinical manifestations than that of other North American pit vipers. The most clinically significant local effect is pain. Other local findings include swelling, fang marks, ecchymosis, and erythema. In a retrospective study on clinical severity of local effects in copperhead envenomation, clinically significant local effects (pain requiring parental analgesics, ecchymosis, swelling over one half of the bitten extremity) occurred in one third of the patients. Envenomation by either the cottonmouth or the copperhead is usually not characterized by gross hemostatic abnormalities (23,28,59,60).

In a series of crotalid bites, with the majority by copperheads, there were no deaths or amputations. However, there can be considerable long-term subjective morbidity from copperhead envenomation, including limb dysfunction with recurrent pain and edema (60-62).

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