If you think you have been exposed to the rabies virus, immediate treatment is necessary. The disease is spread to humans via the saliva from an animal bite. While it is more common for wild animals to be infected with rabies, unvaccinated domestic dogs and cats can also contract and spread the disease. Medicare coverage for your rabies vaccine may be available in certain cases.
When a Rabies Vaccine is Necessary
Because rabies is such a deadly disease, it is important to consider even a small risk of exposure as a serious reason to seek medical care and vaccination. Once symptoms show, the potential for a fatal outcome is more likely.
While the bite of an animal is the most common way rabies is transmitted to humans, you may not always know if you’ve been bitten or otherwise exposed to the saliva from animals infected with the disease. An infected animal that does not show symptoms of the rabies virus may expose you to the disease by licking a cut on your skin or around your mouth and eyes.
All mammals can contract and spread the rabies virus. If you think you may be at risk from an infected animal, immediately refer to your primary care doctor or the nearest urgent care facility to assess your need for a vaccination. To reduce your risk of contracting this dangerous disease, avoid engaging with wild animals and interact only with domesticated ones you are certain have received vaccination.
Potential Signs and Symptoms of Rabies
Early warning signs of rabies in humans can appear to be flu-like, such as fever, chills, nausea or vomiting. This may last for several days. As the disease progresses, more serious symptoms develop. These include:
- An irritable, anxious mood.
- Confusion and hallucinations.
- Difficulty sleeping and hyperactivity.
- Drooling, difficulty with swallowing and a fear of water because of it.
- Paralysis in parts of the body.
Once the disease progresses into these symptoms, survival rates are extremely low. Always act quickly if you think you may have contracted rabies, even if a bite wound or broken skin is not visible.
Medicare Coverage for the Rabies Vaccine
When administered by a healthcare professional as an outpatient service, a rabies vaccine is determined to be medically necessary because a credible risk of exposure would qualify for Medicare coverage under Part B benefits. Medicare Part B has a monthly premium that must be paid in order for its coverage to activate, and you may be responsible for a copayment or coinsurance. The Part B deductible will apply.
Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers and plans must include coverage of at least the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare. Some Medicare Advantage plans also provide additional benefits that can help reduce your cost-sharing obligations.