Sunday, January 23, 2011

How many people do animals kill a year?

Good question.
For the last week, I’ve been attempting to answer it in a series of posts on Tech-Media-Tainment.
Data for some animal-caused fatalities are better than others. But what follows is a summary of my online research. (If you know of any good government reports and health or science journals to use for citations, please let me know.)

Top 10 deadliest animals in the world, by number of human fatalities per year
  1. Mosquito, about 800,000 from malaria transmission alone
  2. Dogs, 55,000 from rabies transmission alone
  3. Tsetse fly, 50,000 from transmitting diseases like human sleeping sickness
  4. Snakes, at least 20,000 from venomous bites
  5. Scorpions, 3,250 from venomous stings
  6. Elephants, 500
  7. Crocodiles, more than 300
  8. African buffalo, over 200
  9. Tigers, 150
  10. (tie) Hippos, over 100
  11. (tie) Lions, over 100
Other animals likely would be in the top 10 if more data were available.
For instance, jellyfish cause 22 to 44 deaths a year in Malaysia and the Philippines alone. Unconfirmed reports say they cause over 100 deaths a year.
And bees and wasps kill at least 40 people a year in the U.S. alone with their venomous stings. Worldwide data on deaths caused by the hymenoptera class of insects, of which bees and wasps are included, are not readily available.

Sources, by entry number:

1. World Health Organization, “Malaria report shows rapid progress towards international targets”, Dec. 14, 2010

2. World Health Organization, Rabies Fact Sheet, updated September 2010

3. Panapress, “AU experts decry high rate of tsetse fly-inflicted deaths”, July 22, 2009.

4. World Health Organization, “WHO plans to increase treatment access for victims of rabies and snake bites”, Jan. 9, 2007

5. eMedicine from WebMD, “Scorpion Envenomation”, Sept. 13, 2010

6. National Geographic, “Elephants Attack as Humans Turn Up the Pressure”, June 3, 2005

7. Crocodile Specialist Group, “Crocodilian Attacks”

8. The Daily Mail, U.K., “The buffalo whisperer: Luke, 13, tames one of Africa’s most feared killers”, Sept. 4, 2010

9. Pure Travel, “Top 10 deadliest destinations for animal attacks”, April 8, 2010
Wikipedia, “Tiger attacks in the Sundarbans”

10. Forbes Traveler, “One misstep and you’re dinner”, Sept. 23, 2009
Smithsonian magazine, “The Most Ferocious Man-Eating Lions”, Dec. 16, 2009

Sources for runners-up:

American Academy of Family Physicians, “Stinging Insect Allergy”, June 15, 2003

eMedicine from WebMD, “Hymenoptera Stings”, April 26, 2010

eMedicine from WebMD, “Wasp Stings”, June 17, 2009

CNN Health, “Skateboarder’s death underscores insect allergy risks”, Aug. 14, 2009

eMJA, the Medical Journal of Australia, “Worldwide deaths and severe envenomation from jellyfish stings”, 1996, “The deadliest sea creature is the jellyfish”, July 22, 2010

Photo: Actress Elizabeth Banks wears a T-shirt for the group Malaria No More. You can buy the T-shirt at BustedTees for $20 and $10 goes toward the fight against malaria.

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