MARYLAND

Rabid bat found in Waldorf apartment

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Hundreds of Charles County residents are living in fear of rabid bats.

One of the bats was discovered last Tuesday in the Huntington Apartments off Gallery Place in Waldorf.

Tuesday night, the County Health Department held a public meting in light of concerns.

About a dozen residents from the apartment complex attended the meeting. They say, for years, they've woken up to bats flying over their heads. They've also had to tip-toe over droppings.

Public health officials say bats can squeeze into homes through quarter inch cracks.

One recovered bat tested positive for rabies.

So far, no one has been hurt.

However, those who've come in contact with bats are being told to get vaccinated against rabies.

Residents say that will only do so much.

Huntington Apartments resident Shawna Toney said, "I try to go to sleep at night, but I can't because I hear them flying above me. I can look out my window and see numerous bats flying around outside. It's terrifying. It's like I'm in a horror movie."

Charles County Medical Health Officer Dianna Abney countered, "People need to not panic at this point. There's a process for removing bats from homes. We've already started that process by contacting the local health department, the state health department and the Department of Natural Resources. The management has said that they are going to participate and cooperate."

Still, many residents feel like their concerns are falling on deaf ears.

At the meeting, officials assured them they are working to resolve the issue.

Part of the reason there's no quick fix is because bats are a federally protected mammal. A permit is needed to remove them.

Exposure to bats is also dangerous for pets, and they should also be vaccinated .

It's important to note that most bats do not have rabies and cannot transmit the deadly virus.

The Charles County Department of Health says it conducts about 750 rabies investigations a year, including bats. About 30 people in the county are treated for the disease annually..

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