Copperhead Bites Fairfax Woman

A Fairfax County woman, out for a walk with her husband Friday night, was bitten by a copperhead snake that had slithered onto a sidewalk in their Fairfax Station neighborhood. The woman required overnight hospitalization but was released yesterday.

Neeta Allagh and her husband, Sushil Allagh, were strolling on Braymore Circle, just north of Silverbrook Road, about 10 p.m. Sushil Allagh said his wife thought she had stepped on a large stick, then looked down and saw she had been bitten on the top of her right foot. "I saw the two red dots," Sushil Allagh said, "then I looked back and saw almost a five-footer."

Employees at an emergency care center gave Neeta Allagh, 38, some pain reliever and sent her home, Sushil Allagh said. But her leg swelled overnight, and she was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she was treated with antivenom. Copperheads do not typically attack people unless they feel threatened, according to various science Web sites, and their venom is dangerous but not normally fatal. Copperheads are found throughout Virginia but are thought to be Northern Virginia's only venomous snake.

Three Aging Ships to Be Dismantled

Three more rusting hulks from the James River Reserve Fleet are destined for the salvage yard, which will bring to seven the number of aging ships that have left the "Ghost Fleet" this summer.

The three earmarked for salvage include the Marshfield and the Preserver, World War II-vintage ships. The Waccamaw, a 1946 oiler, will also leave the reserve fleet, the U.S. Maritime Administration said Friday.

Since August 2004, about 20 ships have been dismantled, according to U.S. Maritime Administration data. Bay Bridge Enterprises LLC, which is on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, will be paid $442,640 to dismantle the Marshfield and the Preserver.

Mike Dunavant, president of Bay Bridge Enterprises, said he is negotiating for another junk ship. The yard has hired about 30 laborers and other staff members to handle the additional work this summer, he said.


Meningitis Confirmed at Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis has given antibiotics to about 130 midshipmen after a student was sickened by bacterial meningitis, the academy said.

The ill midshipman, whose name was not released, was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center on Thursday with a fever, nausea and a severe headache.

As a precaution, academy officials gave antibiotics to the midshipmen in his company. A company at the Naval Academy usually is made up of about 130 midshipmen.

"The Naval Academy is deeply concerned for this midshipman, and we are doing everything to help ensure he has the best medical care available," academy officials said in a written statement.

Deborah Goode, a spokeswoman for the academy, said Saturday that she was aware of no other cases of meningitis among the military school's 4,100 midshipmen.

Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord. Untreated, the disease can cause life-threatening brain damage. Although less contagious than the common cold, the bacteria can be spread through prolonged close contact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Man Found Dead in Howard Jail Cell

Howard County police are investigating what they called an "unattended death" of an inmate yesterday morning in the county's jail. A prison guard discovered Joseph E. McGee, 38, lying in his cell about 9:30 a.m. McGee was pronounced dead en route to Howard County General Hospital.

The cause of death won't be known until an autopsy is completed. McGee was being held in the jail on theft charges and a warrant from another county. Howard officials would not comment further.

Joint Effort Against Baltimore Gun Crimes

U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley have made an agreement to more aggressively pursue gun crimes in the city.

For years, gun-crime prosecutions had been a contentious issue between the mayor and Rosenstein's predecessor, Thomas M. DiBiagio.

Under the deal, O'Malley (D) agreed to use $200,000 from a grant to bolster Rosenstein's plan to pursue more gun prosecutions.

The money, which comes from what is left of a $2.1 million Justice Department grant awarded last year to the city, will establish two assistant prosecutors who, for one year, will focus on gun crimes that violate federal firearms laws.

If the program is successful, Rosenstein and O'Malley expect it to continue.

"We want to be as helpful to him as we can possibly be in making this partnership stronger," O'Malley said. "With cooperation, we can make our city and state . . . a much safer place."

Rosenstein said: "I think there is an important role for the federal government to prosecute gun crime. It's not exclusively a federal program, and we're not going to go it alone."


Witnesses to Fatal NE Shooting Sought

D.C. police said yesterday that they are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred Saturday night in Northeast Washington.

Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, said the body of Derrick Jones, of the 3700 block of Cassell Place NE, was found about 9 p.m. in the 3700 block of Hayes Street. Jones, 22, had been shot in the head and body.

Police do not have any suspects or a motive in the shooting and are asking for help from any witnesses.

"When we came here, the American people helped us. Now we have to help them."

-- The Rev. Phero Long of Our Lady of Vietnam Parish in Silver Spring,

talking about Washington's large immigrant community, many

of whom are helping the rescue effort after Hurricane Katrina. -- B1.

Compiled from reports by staff writers Dan Morse and Tom Jackman and the Associated Press.