Forty-one Aberdeen area residents identified at-risk for rabies exposure

More than 40 residents from two different Aberdeen area apartment complexes have begun the rabies vaccination process, according to the Harford County Health Department.

In mid-July, residents of the Perrywood Gardens Apartments complex, just south of Aberdeen, and Cranberry Run Apartments, in Aberdeen, reported a bat infestation in several buildings.

After two community meetings, various phone calls and posting fliers, William Wiseman, public information officer of the health department, said they had identified 41 from both apartments who are at risk for rabies.

Twenty-two are residents of Cranberry Run and 19 people are from Perrywood Gardens.

Of those 41 residents, Wiseman wrote in an e-mail Thursday, 12 have completed the process, 24 were in process of receiving the vaccinations and five people had not yet started the series.

He said Thursday morning the health department expects more residents to come in for vaccinations.

So far, 12 additional Harford County residents, outside of those two complexes, have contacted the health department about possible rabies exposure.

Wiseman encouraged all residents to come forward if they have had any contact with the bats. Those at the highest risk are residents who have been bitten or scratched; the second priority are those who have had contact with the bats, but haven't necessarily been bitten, he said.

The health department is also emphasizing that even residents who were awakened to find bats in their room, contact them, Wiseman added.

"The teeth of the bats are so small and so sharp that sometimes the bite marks would be indiscernible," he said.

Wiseman also added that although they were encouraging people to go through their insurance companies, no one would be denied the treatment because of inability to pay and they would make it work.

"Certainly no one who needs it will go unvaccinated," he said.

In addition to using insurance, Wiseman also said Upper Chesapeake Medical Center and the health department are providing shots. Because of the high costs associated with that, he added, the health department is negotiating with the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for financial support.

The residents of apartments where no bats have been spotted, he said, have been ruled out for exposure.

So far, Wiseman added, the exclusion process in Cranberry Run was nearly complete. But those processes, in general, take a while to finish because the bats don't all leave at once.

For now, Wiseman said the department is urging anyone who has potentially come into contact with the bats to contact them, 410-612-1779.

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