Cost of Rabies
The cost of rabies prevention and control in the United States has risen and is estimated to exceed $300 million annually. These rabies costs include such things as animal control programs, the vaccination of companion animals, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical costs, such as those incurred for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. The cost of rabies worldwide is difficult to estimate; however, it is known that dogs account for over 90 percent of human exposures and 99 percent of human deaths from rabies worldwide.
Although rabies deaths are rare among humans in the United States, the estimated public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention, and control have increased. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the annual cost of rabies prevention in the U.S. exceeds $300 million. These costs include:
- The vaccination of companion animals
- Animal control programs
- Maintenance of rabies laboratories
- Medical costs, such as those incurred for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.
Accurate estimates of these expenditures are not available. Although the number of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis given in the United States each year is unknown, it is estimated to be about 40,000.
An annual turnover of approximately 25 percent in the dog population necessitates revaccination of millions of animals each year, and reintroduction of rabies through transport of infected animals from outside a controlled area is always a possibility, should control programs lapse.
When rabies becomes epizootic (meaning it affects animals of the same kind at the same time) or enzootic (constantly present) in a region, the number of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis in that area increases. Although the cost varies, a course of rabies immune globulin and five doses of vaccine, given over a four-week period, typically costs more than $1,000. The cost per human life saved from rabies ranges from approximately $10,000 to $100 million, depending on the nature of the exposure and the probability of rabies in a region.