Understanding Rabies

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Understanding Rabies

Throughout history, zoonotic diseases have impacted human civilisation and shaped a lot of societies and practices. These diseases are transmitted from animals to humans and usually stem from an infected animal with a viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection. There have been many cases of zoonotic diseases in the past, like the plague epidemics caused by fleas and carried by small rodents, bovine tuberculosis caused by dairy animals, etc.

In this article, we will be talking about Rabies, a zoonotic viral disease caused by the bite of an infected animal.

Rabies is a serious condition that causes brain inflammation and can be fatal. The central nervous system is impacted, and without proper medical care, the patient succumbs to the disease. There have been recorded instances of Rabies in Ancient Egypt, making it one of the oldest known diseases to mankind. Some of the animals known to carry the virus are dogs, foxes, bats, and raccoons.

In India, rabies has been a serious health issue. According to the World Health Organization, rabies is endemic to India, accounting for around 36% of all rabies-related deaths around the world. While the government has taken many measures to curb its spread and make healthcare facilities available in remote regions of the country, thousands of people still die due to rabies every year.

When a person is diagnosed with rabies, immediate treatment can help improve the outcome. The treatment costs can range between ₹5000 and ₹10000. However, if the treatment is delayed and complications set in, the patient might have to be hospitalised and receive specialised care. In such cases, the costs can rise exponentially. Hence, having a medical insurance plan covering rabies is important.

When you opt for a comprehensive health insurance plan from Tata AIG, you get coverage for various diseases and illnesses. It helps you manage treatment and hospitalisation costs without worrying about dipping into your savings.

You can buy health insurance online in no time and get the financial protection for medical emergencies that your family deserves. With a hassle-free claim settlement process, a wide range of add-on covers, and cost-efficient plans, you can get the benefits of health insurance for your loved ones.

In this article, we will talk about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and importance of a health insurance plan for Rabies.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease. It affects all mammals and attacks the central nervous system. Rabies in humans is primarily caused by the saliva of an infected animal. Hence, if a person is bitten by a dog or bat or any other mammal that has rabies, then he can get infected too. Also, if the infected animal licks an open wound of the person, the virus can be transmitted too.

While animals can be vaccinated against rabies, it is commonly spread by wild animals who have not been vaccinated. The virus can be fatal and you need to get medical attention immediately if you suspect being bitten by an animal with the disease.

Rabies Symptoms

Once a person has been exposed to the rabies virus, the symptoms won’t show until the virus travels to the brain and starts causing inflammation. The rabies incubation period, or the time between exposure and the onset of symptoms, can be a few weeks or even months.

The incubation period varies due to the distance of the exposure site from the brain and the type of virus. It also varies based on the immune strength of the person.

Initial symptoms

During the first two weeks, some patients might display flu-like symptoms including:

  • Weakness

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Itching sensation at the site of the infection

Advanced symptoms

After the incubation period, the patient might start displaying symptoms like:

  • Anxiety

  • Confusion

  • Brain dysfunction

  • Agitation

Acute symptoms

With the progress of the disease, the symptoms become more acute and include:

  • Delirium

  • Hallucinations

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Hydrophobia

Usually, once the patient starts showing these signs, the disease is almost fatal.

Types of Rabies

Rabies occurs in two forms as described below:

Furious Rabies

This is the more common form of the disease that accounts for around 80% of all human rabies cases. The characteristic of this form of rabies is encephalitis, or the inflammation of the brain. The common symptoms among patients are uncontrollable excitement, hyperactivity, and hallucinations. Some patients also experience hydrophobia (fear of water) or aerophobia (fear of air).

In this form, patients usually experience difficulty talking and/or swallowing. They also find it difficult to swallow saliva, which results in foaming at the mouth. They tend to have up to five-minute episodes of excitability followed by calm. Seizures are also possible, and death is usually due to cardiorespiratory failure.

Dumb Rabies

This is a rare form of rabies in humans. The characteristic of this form of rabies is paralysis. Contrary to Furious Rabies, in Dumb Rabies, the patient is calm and lucid throughout the disease. It also lasts longer than the previous form.

Its initial symptoms include fever and headaches. Further, muscles near the infected area start getting paralysed, which then spreads to other parts of the body. After around ten days, the patient lapses into a coma and then dies.

Causes of Rabies

Rabies infection is caused by the rabies virus. In humans, it is caused by the saliva of an infected animal. It occurs in mammals making humans prone to the infection. If an infected mammal bites a human, the virus can be transmitted, infecting the human. In some cases, the virus can also be transmitted if the infected animal licks an open wound, eyes, or mouth of a human.

Different types of pet animals can transmit the virus, including dogs, cats, cows, pigs, horses, and goats. Wild animals like monkeys, foxes, bats, raccoons, etc., can also transmit the virus.

Rabies Risk Factors

Here are some factors that can increase your risk of rabies:

  • If you are planning to travel to a country where rabies is more common, then the chances of getting infected are higher

  • While pet animals can be vaccinated against rabies, wild animals are also capable of infecting us. Hence, if you are involved in activities that bring you close to wild animals, like trekking, exploring caves, etc. increases your risks of getting bitten and infected.

  • Veterinarians that treat mammals are at risk of getting infected if they don’t take adequate precautions

  • If you are working in a laboratory that analyses rabies virus, then a small error can expose you to it

  • There is a rabies vaccine available to protect you from the infection. If you have not taken the vaccine, then you are at risk of exposure if an infected animal bites you

Diagnosis of Rabies

While the signs and symptoms of rabies are unique, a mere clinical examination cannot help doctors diagnose the disease. Hence, they recommend a laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. Here are some tests used by doctors to diagnose rabies:

  • Direct Fluorescent Antibody Test (dFA)

    This is the most common test used to diagnose rabies around the world. It is recommended by the World Health Organization and is considered a benchmark test for diagnosing the disease. Since the virus spreads through the nerves and not the blood, the doctor takes a sample of the brain tissue to run the test.

  • Direct Rapid Immunohistochemistry Test (dRIT)

    This is the best alternative to the DFA Test. It also uses brain tissue samples but follows a non-fluorescent approach to the diagnosis.

  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)

    This test is usually used by governments if there is a rabies epidemic to identify the virus variants that are predominant locally.

  • RT-PCR Test

    The doctor might take samples of the patient’s saliva to conduct a reverse transcription followed by a polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the virus.

  • Other Tests

    The doctor might also take samples of the spinal fluid to test for antibodies to the rabies virus. He might take skin biopsy specimens to examine them for rabies antigen in the cutaneous nerves at the base of hair follicles.

Rabies Treatment

Once the diagnosis confirms a rabies infection, our current medical research offers no effective treatment. Hence, most patients succumb to the infection. To avoid this, you must take immediate steps if you suspect exposure to the virus.

If an animal bites you, the first question is – Is the animal infected with the rabies virus? If the animal is a pet, you can get it medically diagnosed to establish or rule out rabies. However, if you have been bitten by a wild animal where finding it is impossible, then it would be prudent to assume that it has rabies and start the treatment immediately.

  • Clean the site of exposure

    If you have been bitten by an animal, then regardless of the rabies infection, make sure that you clean it thoroughly with soap and water. You can also use a disinfectant. This step can help reduce the amount of virus in the wound.

  • Get rabies shots

    The most common and effective rabies injection is Rabies Immunoglobulin. This is given to people who have not been vaccinated against the virus. Doctors will try to inject you close to the area of exposure. It is important to consult a doctor immediately, as the sooner the area is injected, the easier it will be to control its spread and eliminate it.

Preventing Rabies

Here is a list of things that you can do to prevent rabies from disrupting your life:

  • Be extra careful when travelling to the wild

  • Know the risk factors based on your health and exposure conditions

  • Whenever you get bitten by an animal, talk to your doctor immediately. Also, clean the wound to remove most of the virus

  • Get a rabies vaccine if you are at a higher risk of getting infected

Things to do if you have a pet

  • Get your pet vaccinated against rabies and get a medical check-up done regularly\

  • Try to avoid any interaction between your pet and wild animals

Why Use a Medical Insurance Plan?

Rabies can cause severe complications. Also, if not treated in time, it can be fatal. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as you doubt being infected with the virus. The treatment usually includes injections and supportive care.

The patient might require hospitalisation and specialised treatment that can derail your finances, With the right medical insurance plan, you can get financial protection against the costs of treatment and hospitalisation due to rabies.

A comprehensive health insurance policy like the one offered by Tata AIG includes a range of benefits including:**

  • Wide coverage: With Tata AIG’s medical insurance, you can get coverage for hospitalisation costs, surgeries, and diagnostic tests. Hence, you don’t need to worry about the policy covering only a part of the expenses.

  • Extensive hospital network: You can choose from any one of the network hospitals that have a tie-up with us to enjoy cashless hospitalisation.

  • Cashless treatment: When you buy a health insurance policy from Tata AIG, then you can get treated at any of the network hospitals without having to pay upfront. We will coordinate with the hospital and clear your bills directly.

  • No limits on renewability: You can renew your Tata AIG medical insurance plan for as long as you want. There is no age limit for renewing the policy.

  • Customer Service: We are a customer-centric company, which is evident in the quality of services offered by our 24/7 customer support team. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns, you can contact the team, and they will be glad to assist you

Health Insurance Tax Benefits

You can enjoy a tax deduction for the premium paid towards a health insurance plan under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act.

  • Here are the tax limits:

  • Policyholder under 60 years of age = ₹25,000

  • Policyholder above 60 years of age (senior citizen = ₹50,000

  • Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) = ₹25,000 (if under 60 years) / ₹50,000 (senior citizen)

  • Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) = ₹25,000

  • Some things to know:

  • An individual can claim tax benefits for two policies if they have purchased one policy for themselves and a separate policy for their dependent parents.

    That means, if the policyholder and their parents are above 60 years of age, they can claim a maximum tax benefit of ₹1,00,000 (₹50,000 + ₹50,000).

  • These tax limits include the Preventive Health Checkup benefits of ₹5000 and ₹7000 (senior citizens).

How to Buy Tata AIG’s Health Insurance?

With Tata AIG, you can buy a comprehensive health insurance policy to get coverage for rabies and manage the treatment without having to worry about the costs. Here is a quick look at the process to buy Rabies insurance:

Online Process

  • Visit our official website

  • Go to the Health Insurance Page or navigate to it by scrolling to the top menu on the home page and clicking on “Health Insurance”

  • On this page, select the family members that you want to include in the policy. The list includes self, spouse, father, mother, son, and daughter.

  • Click on “Get Plan”

  • Provide the date of birth of all members covered under the policy and your contact details

  • Click on “See Plan”

  • Choose the right plan from the list provided based on your needs

  • Select a sum assured based on the coverage you need and the premium you can afford

  • Click on “Buy Now”

  • We will call you to complete the buying process

Offline process:

  • Visit a Tata AIG office

  • Meet our representative and provide details of the insurance coverage you need

  • Select the perfect plan based on your requirements

  • Fill out the required forms and attach the necessary documents

  • Pay the fees

Documents needed to buy Tata AIG’s Medical Insurance Plan

Here is a list of documents needed to buy Tata AIG’s medical insurance plan:

  • Identity proof: Aadhaar Card, PAN Card, Passport, or Voter ID Card (any identity card issued by the government

  • Address proof: Utility bill, passport, driving license, Aadhaar card, or rent agreement.

  • Age proof: Birth certificate, PAN card, or passport

  • Medical history: Make sure you declare everything about your medical history, as it will help us assess the risk optimally and calculate the premium.

  • Photograph: Passport-sized photograph

What to Look for in a Health Insurance Plan?

When selecting a health insurance plan for rabies, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Coverage for rabies treatment: While the rabies virus causes rabies, don’t assume that the insurer will provide coverage for the disease. Hence, it is essential to check if the policy covers rabies treatment.

  • The proximity of a network hospital: Think about the best hospital near your residence that you would want to be treated in during a medical emergency. Next, look a the list of hospitals within the network. Make sure that the insurer supports the hospitals you want to get treated in.

  • Cashless claims: The health insurance policy must cover different types of expenses related to rabies treatment. Ensure the insurer offers a cashless treatment option at a network hospital.

  • Options to reduce premium: If the features that you need in a policy are resulting in a high premium amount, then you can opt for co-payment or deductibles to reduce it without changing the coverage

Things to Remember When Filing a Claim for Rabies

There are two ways to get your medical expenses covered under a Tata AIG health insurance plan. These are:

Cashless claim

Your doctor might want you to get hospitalised for supportive care due to severe symptoms. If you opt for treatment at one of our network hospitals, you can opt for cashless treatment.

Here are some things to remember for a cashless claim:

  • If you are getting hospitalised due to rabies, then make sure that you seek authorisation from the company for cashless treatment options

  • If the treatment is planned, then make sure that you inform us at least five days in advance

  • If you are getting hospitalised suddenly, then ensure that you inform us within 24 hours

Reimbursement claim

Cashless treatment is an optional service. Remember, even if cashless treatment is allowed, it does not kick in automatically. You can opt to pay the bills and then claim reimbursement, Alternatively, if you are getting treated at a non-network hospital, then cashless treatment services are not available.

Here are some things to remember for a reimbursement claim:

  • We will provide a list of documents that you will need to file a claim

  • Collect and arrange all relevant documents as per the claim process

  • You can file a claim only after being discharged from the hospital

Additional information

  • Renew your policy in time to avoid policy lapse

  • Go through the policy document and understand the inclusions, exclusions, and terms of the policy

  • Look for the waiting period and cooling period clauses

Disclaimer / TnC

Your policy is subjected to terms and conditions & inclusions and exclusions mentioned in your policy wording. Please go through the documents carefully.

Related Articles

Q1. Can you get rabies from eating meat from an infected animal?

Q1. Can you get rabies from eating meat from an infected animal?


If the meat is cooked properly, then the virus will be automatically killed. Hence, it is extremely rare to find a patient who got infected by eating meat from an infected animal.

Q2. Is it possible to survive rabies once the acute neurological symptoms appear?


After the onset of acute symptoms, the survival rate is minimal. The patient starts showing symptoms only after the virus reaches the brain and causes inflammation. This damages the nerves and makes treatment impossible.

Q3. Will health insurance cover the cost of vaccinating my pet dog for rabies?


No, pet vaccinations will not be covered under your health insurance policy.

Q4. Does health insurance cover the cost of testing for rabies?


The cost of testing for rabies may be covered under certain health insurance plans, particularly if the test is deemed medically necessary. However, it is important to check the specific policy details to confirm what is covered.