Sunday, January 23, 2011

U.S. deaths caused by animals per year

What animal kills the most humans in the U.S. every year?
The cheeky answer is humans.
People committed 17,837 homicides in the U.S. in 2008, according to a preliminary report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s down 3% from 18,361 homicides in 2007, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Coming in a distant second is deer, which kill an average of 150 people a year in collisions with automobiles in the U.S.
In third are bees, hornets and wasps. Their stings kill an average of 48 people a year.
In fourth place are dogs, which usually kill 19 people a year. In 2010, they killed 34 people. So much for being man’s best friend.

Deaths caused by animals in the U.S. per year

Annual average 1991-2001, except where noted
  1. Motor vehicle fatalities involving deer, other animals, 223*
  2. Bee, hornet, wasp, 48
  3. Dog, 34**
  4. Scorpion, centipede, other venomous arthropods, 7
  5. Spider, 6
  6. Snake, 5
  7. Fatalities involving cattle, 4***
** 2010 (Average 1991-2001: 19)
*** Average 2003-2008
Sources: See footnotes.

But all of those causes of death are a drop in the bucket compared with heart disease, cancer, lung disease and stroke.

Leading causes of death in the U.S., 2008
  1. Diseases of heart, 617,527 deaths
  2. Malignant neoplasms, 566,137
  3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases, 141,075
  4. Cerebrovascular diseases, 133,750
  5. Accidents (unintentional injuries), 121,207
  6. Alzheimer’s disease, 82,476
  7. Diabetes mellitus, 70,601
  8. Influenza and pneumonia, 56,335
  9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis, 48,283
  10. Septicemia, 35,961
  11. Intentional self-harm (suicide), 35,933
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, 29,963
  13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, 25,823
  14. Parkinson’s disease, 20,507
  15. Assault (homicide) 17,837
This is the most recent report on leading causes of death in the U.S. It was issued in December by the CDC.


Centers for Disease Control, National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 59, No. 2, “Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008”; Dec. 9, 2010

Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 16, 67-74 (2005); “Animal-Related Fatalities in the United States – An Update”

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “Collisions with deer and other animals spike in November”; Oct. 30, 2008

Dog Bite Law, statistics page

Agri-View, “Fatalities Grim Reminder Cattle Can Be Dangerous”; Nov. 5, 2009

Photo: Deer impaled in windshield after collision with a Dodge Durango in Minnesota in October 2002. See more photos from the crash at

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