$1.3 billion spent annually in US on precautionary jabs for rabies?

There is a huge financial burden, at up to $1.3 billion, which goes with the presence of rabies in the US, either privately or through insurance for the jabs you get as a precaution after you have been bitten by an animal who may or may not have rabies. These jabs are called prophylactic rabies vaccine jabs (as far as I know) or post-exposure vaccinations.

Woman pets stray cat causing rabies alert
This picture is for illustrative purposes only and is not the bite referred to in the article
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

They are very expensive at up to $26,000 according to the journalist writing for CNN who was bitten as she stroked a cat. The cat seemed perfectly normal and healthy and probably is but you have to be cautious in the US because rabies is fatal. You can’t take the risk of being bitten and doing nothing about it.

The problem is that if you don’t know the cat and can’t locate the animal to quarantine him/her for 10 days to check for rabies, the recommendation is to begin post-exposure preventative rabies treatment.

The journalist, Caitlin Hillyard, needed a one-time injection of rabies immunoglobulin followed by four injections of rabies vaccine over a fortnight. These cost the lady $26,000 which seems extraordinary to me. These jabs are given an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 times annually in the US apparently.

The bill can be lower as far as I can tell but still very high. However, it is confusing. According to vox.com, a student who was exposed to rabies by a bat who flew into her mouth paid $6,017 for the post-exposure vaccines. Most of the charge was made up of the immunoglobulin jab. Sometimes the charge can be $10,000. This is still a whooping bill. VOx.com say that in the UK the same treatment costs $1,600. Except the only time it is used is when a person comes into the country having been exposed to rabies outside the country. And almost always it will be ‘free’ at the point of delivery under the NHS.

It is highly unfortunate if a person is bitten by a friendly cat in the US. The bite may be for any reason other than the cat is rabid such as play or anxiety. That brief moment may cost the person over $10,000 if they are paying personally. However Wikipedia tells me that around 90% of Americans have medical insurance. Perhaps that is the reason why the rabies treatment costs so much. The medical centres are ripping off the insurance companies.

I don’t know if US medical insurance automatically covers post-exposure rabies jabs. You may have to pay an extra amount for it. It may pay to check. Most American don’t take a pre-exposure rabies vaccination, only those at high risk.

In the UK if you are bitten by a cat you more or less ignore it except for watching for a bacterial infection which if it shows should be treated with antibiotics immediately. But rabies and the super-expensive shoots you need to treat it as a precaution can be ignored.

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