Rabies cost-effectiveness of therapy

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Although human rabies deaths are rare, the estimated public health costs associated with disease detection, prevention, and control have risen, exceeding $300 million annually. These costs include the vaccination of companion animals, animal control programs, maintenance of rabies laboratories, and medical costs, such as those incurred for rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).

Cost-Effectiveness of Therapy

Accurate estimates of these expenditures are not available. Although the number of PEPs given in the United States each year is unknown, it is estimated to be about 40,000. When rabies becomes epizootic or enzootic in a region, the number of PEPs in that area increases. Although the cost varies, a course of rabies immune globulin and five doses of vaccine given over a 4-week period typically exceeds $1,000 in industrialized nations. In developing countries, the cost is approximately $100-$300[1]. 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.

Milwaukee Protocol

The famous case of Jeanna Giese required a drastic and experimental protocol. This therapy has been attempted on subsequent patients since her diagnosis in 2004, but the major problem is the total expense of it. Dr. Rodney Willoughby, the doctor who treated Giese, estimated that the total cost of her treatment, using the Milwaukee protocol, was approximately $800,000[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Medical Mystery: Only One Person Has Survived Rabies without Vaccine--But How?: Scientific American". Retrieved 2012-02-10.