Guess what first rabies shots in the ER cost?

So, guess what it cost last week for somebody to get the first set of shots in the Emergency Room after we figured out the cat that did the scratching was rabid?

$5,082. For 8 shots (one vaccine and seven separate syringes of the same immunoglobulin injected into seven different sites). This includes a doctor and some fiddling around, but no treatment of the wound, no tests, just the consult and the injections in the ER.


Note to self - avoid rabid cats.

Secondary note to self - make sure to proof read in case self types “rabbit” instead of “rabid.”

Hope the bill is the only painful part left, Napier!


Your health insurance coverage is, of course, what determines you ultimate costs.

Let us know what happens.

I’m not all that surprised at the cost. ER treatments are expensive, and even non-ER rabies vaccinations for vets and techs are not cheap! Why can’t they develop a human vaccine that’s a one-time with a booster in a year and done? And, you know, a few dollars like they are for pets.

I’m even more interested in a rabid cat. I know some areas have more prevalence than others. I’ve been working with feral cats for 10 years and have yet to run across a case of rabies. I haven’t been bitten myself (knock wood), but several co-workers have, and we’ve sent in plenty of heads, but no rabies in cats around here.

Was there saliva involved with the scratch? How? I have to say we wouldn’t take scratches terribly seriously unless the cat was drooling and whipping saliva all over - maybe that’s a mistake? Bites are the biggest concern, or licking/drooling into an existing wound or mucous membranes.

I’m so very curious.

Vaccination is not the same as post exposure prophylaxis.

Except that following the CDC treatment for rabies post exposure includes the vaccine as well as human rabies immunoglobulin.

Otherwise generally correct.

Rabies is one vaccine I always keep up with now, especially over here. You need a booster every 10 years. I’d let mine lapse and was bitten almost 10 years ago by The Mangiest Dog in Bangkok (just outside the city actually), and that’s saying a lot. I’d inadvertently wandered close to her litter of pups. I didn’t go to the ER, but I did go to a private, Western-style hospital for the first shot, then finished the series at the Red Cross. That first shot was still cheaper than in the West, less than US$100, maybe about $50, but it also cost more than the entire rest of the series at the Red Cross. If I’d kept up on my vaccine, I would’ve only needed a single booster shot.

That reminds me, it’s coming up time to get my 10-year booster.

I took a class in Mammalogy (ask me about the deer station!). My professor and several of his grad students had the pre-exposure rabies vaccines since they were exploring caves, looking for bats. I never heard how much the shots cost, but they would have relieved me.

From what I’ve read and my experience, the pre-exposure human vaccine isn’t perfect by a long shot, but it’s better than nothing.

Look at it this way: Considering that rabies is almost invariably fatal (not quite 100% mortality anymore thanks to the Milwaukee Protocol, but still pretty bad odds) once symptoms start showing up, that’s really not THAT high of a price to pay to protect yourself against a mostly fatal disease. :slight_smile:

You can get your titers checked, Siam. I got my series 8 years ago (Yikes! It’s been that long!), and due to my work, have to have the titers rechecked every other year. So far, I’m above the threshold (whatever that is), and no boosters are needed.

Thanks. I wonder if that would actually cost more than just getting the booster, considering how cheap it is at the Red Cross.

I think my rabies vaccination cost between $400-$500 for the series. I was just disappointed I didn’t get a vaccination tag.

I’m wondering if the Red Cross gives these vaccinations in the US the same as it does over here. If so, that would save some money.

From what I’ve always heard, once symptoms show up you’re already dead meat.

Good lord. To paraphrase the old joke:

“It’s extremely important to begin the injections immediately. The first eight will cost $5,082.”
“I see. Thank you.”

“What’d they say?”
“They said you’re going to die.”

True, of course. My point that wasn’t at all clear was that many more people in the animal control/rescue field would get vaccinated if it weren’t so cost-prohibitive in the first place. Vets and techs have to for school - but the vast majority of people who work with ferals and higher risk animals aren’t formally schooled and are not vaccinated - but perhaps would be if it wasn’t so expensive. I would think the post-exposure prophylaxis would fall in line, or possibly not be needed if there was a less expensive, more effective vaccine that more people got in the first place.

Clearly, the money is in vaccinating pets (a 1-year dog/cat rabies vaccine can be had for under $2) in the millions, rather than the few thousand additional animal care workers who would pony up for it if it weren’t for school requirements.

As it is, the vast majority (who I know in Illnois) just keep hoping odds stay in their favor and they won’t need ER treatment as in the OP’s acquaintance. The last reported case of a cat with rabies in Illinois was in 1996, and dog was in 1994.

The total cost for my series was around $300, eight years ago (yikes, I am getting old). Insurance didn’t cover it.

A couple of years ago there was a shortage in the human vaccine line, with problems in one of the factories that make the FDA-approved vaccines, and the other factory unable to meet the demand. Some pre-exposure people (students just entering veterinary medicine) had to wait until supply increased before getting their series, and some places were considering looking at their post-exposure protocols and determining who really was exposed (ie, what did they consider as exposure and hence, deserving the vaccine).

As far as I know, that has been solved in the US.

Siam, as far as I know, the Red Cross here doesn’t give vaccines, perhaps it is something that varies by country, as you’re in an area that has a higher incidence of disease than the US.

Yes, the local Red Cross seems more active locally than its stateside counterparts. It’s also home to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, which supplies snake antivenom nationwide and is a tourist attraction.

If you do work with animals and want the pre-exposure series, it’s worth checking with your health insurance company. I’m with Kaiser Permanente here in California, and when I started at the zoo, they had no problem in administering the vaccine at no up-front cost to me, not even a co-pay. The other big insurer around here, Anthem Blue Cross, didn’t offer this cover, and would have charged me something like $500 per shot (it’s a series of 3).

I’m occasionally bitten by mammals in my job (zoo educator), but the main reason I’m glad I got the vaccine isn’t really health related - I wouldn’t get to work with our skunks or bats if I hadn’t been vaccinated! They’re really cool, and great to work with. Out fruit bats are very smart - we’re training the three straw-coloured fruit bats to walk along a rope, and into a crate, so we can take them into classes.

I’m also wondering about needing rabies shots due to being clawed. I’m a rescue person as well, and the main reason I love my pre-exposure shots is because on the rare times that I get bitten, I can quarentine the biter instead of having it tested. I’ve never considered getting treated because I was scratched up.

This thread is a good reminder, because I often forget to get my blood drawn.

SnakesCatLady I think my rabies vaccination cost between $400-$500 for the series. I was just disappointed I didn’t get a vaccination tag.

My insurance co-pay was $20. I was also disappointed that I didn’t get the tag. I would have bought a collar and worn it proudly.