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Anne Arundel County Paying Its Own Way After Rabies Resurgence

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Schuh Mike 370x278 (2) Mike Schuh
Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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EDGEWATER, Md. (WJZ) — For years, Anne Arundel County had a problem with rabid animals in populated areas. A few years ago, before it was cut off, federal funds practically eliminated the threat.

But now, as Mike Schuh reports, a rabies resurgence means the county is paying its own way.

For the next two weeks, six teams a day are loading up and fanning out to all points in Anne Arundel County. Take a big sniff of this raccoon bait and you can smell the path of this health team.

“So they’re very attracted to that fishy smell. They like fish. They like all kinds of food, but that fishy smell is what brings them in,” said Kim Mitchell, state rabies coordinator.

In areas where raccoons are, these are thrown nearby. They eat the bait and the vaccine. It prevents them from getting and carrying rabies.

“It’s done the job over the years. Yes it has,” said Dr. Joseph Harmon, Anne Arundel County rabies consultant.

From 96 cases before they began baiting, all the way down to just four.

But then, the sequestration dried up federal money and no baits were put out. Last year, rabies cases zoomed to 30 in the county, and that just wouldn’t do.

“Anne Arundel County decided on their own that they’re going to pick up the funding of this program,” Dr. Harmon said.

Some $200,000 means 85,000 of the vaccine baits are being thrown to raccoon, fox and skunk–the three major carriers.

“Especially in a very residential area. What we’re going to do is try to get it in to places like this where they can hide,” said Thomas Scalley, Anne Arundel County Health Department.

This oral rabies vaccine project is music to the people who live south of Annapolis in Edgewater as they say raccoons are becoming more common.

“I think that’s great. I have no idea what the cost is, but it’s humane,” said Barbara DeVries, resident.

Teams will continue to plant the vaccinated bait until the end of the month.

Starting Thursday, the county will toss bait from helicopters in rural areas.

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