DO YOU NEED TO BE TREATED FOR RABIES?

Why would you need to be treated for rabies? If you come into contact with the saliva of an infected animal or if it comes into contact with your skin (i.e a small scratch or bite) there is a chance you could contract rabies. Animals that could have rabies include bats, cats, dogs, and raccoons. Bats have very small teeth and any bite marks may disappear quickly, so you might not always know you’ve been bitten. Therefore, if you discover a bat in your bedroom overnight or come into contact with one, but don’t see a bite or scratch mark, the CDC recommends that you should still follow Post-Exposure Prophylaxis protocol.

Diagnosing rabies before the onset of the disease is almost impossible, making Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) necessary even if you’re unsure you’ve actually been exposed to an infected animal.  PEP treatment is administered immediately after exposure,  preventing the virus from entering the central nervous system. Without PEP, rabies results in death. 

What exactly is PEP? Firstly, the scratch or wound is washed, normally for a minimum of 15 minutes using soap and water or iodine, and treated. Secondly a vaccination is administered and if deemed necessary, rabies immunoglobulin. This is followed up with a series of vaccination shots delivered over a two week period. 

It is important that, if possible, the bat is captured and sent for rabies testing. While waiting for the lab results PEP must be continued. However, If the results come back negative, treatment can be discontinued early. If the animal can not be captured and tested then you need a full course of PEP. 

WHAT IS HUMAN RABIES IMMUNOGLOBULIN?

Basically, immunoglobulin puts the immune system into overdrive, staving off the rabies virus until the vaccine begins to work, it buys you time.

Rabies immunoglobulin is expensive to produce. This is because, unlike a flu shot, it’s derived from human blood which has to be carefully screened for disease.

microscopic red blood cell with immunoglobulin used for rabies vaccination in 2021

HOW MUCH DO RABIES SHOTS COST?

As of 2019, approximately 55,000 Americans have recieved PEP each year. The cost varies depending on which state you live in but typically it costs between $1,200 and $6,500. This includes a course of immunoglobulin and four doses of vaccine. It does not include hospital administrative costs or wound care, and that’s where it can get really expensive. 

Some states help control the cost of treatment by paying what isn’t covered by insurance or by giving the vaccination at cost. But these states are getting less and less common as costs increase. 

In fact nowadays the only place in most states which keeps the vaccination in stock would be the ER. Getting treatment for rabies in the ER can be even more expensive as the cost there is marked up 2 to 3 times at least. 

It’s unfortunate to say the least, that while wondering if you’ve been exposed to a fatal disease you also have to be concerned with how big the bill is going to be for your treatment. You need treatment or you could die, it’s not the time to try and find the best deal, so you are stuck paying whatever they want to charge you.

It’s important to note that while we’ve quoted an average cost above, some patients have ended up with bills of over $10,000, once hospital administration or ER fees have been included. 

CAN I AVOID THESE COSTS?

Although there isn’t much you can do about the cost of PEP, you can prevent contact with bats in the first place, avoiding any future need for rabies shots. If you think you have bats in your home get an inspection and find out for sure. Getting your home sealed, preventing bats from roosting there, could save you a lot of money and stress in the future. 

Our qualified team can even walk you through the steps of how to successfully turn in an insurance claim if your home has structural damage caused by a bat colony. Give us a call on 877 264-2287 if you need help.

Your Local Bat Removal Specialist,

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski

Michael Koski

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