These are the animals and insects most likely to kill you

CDC database catalogs animal-related human fatalities in U.S.

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Image credit: Flickr/RFARMER


There's a sad news report from Texas about a swarm of 30,000 bees that attacked a man and woman and their miniature horses over the weekend.

While the people survived about 250 stings between them, the horses did not. But the incident made me wonder what are the leading causes of animal-related human deaths in the United States.

I found a study last year by Wisconsin School of Medicine researchers who analyzed a database of animal-caused human fatalities kept by the Centers for Disease Control. They looked at data from the years 1999 through 2007.

During that period there were 1,802 animal-related human deaths. Here are the top 10 most fatal animals (and insects), helpfully pulled from the report by Outside magazine.

1. Other mammals (655 deaths, or 36.3% of the total) -- I know, what kind of category is this? It's a catch-all that includes "cats, cows, horses, pigs, raccoons and other hoofed animals," according to Outside. (Note: Though I am hesitant to question professional researchers, I am reasonably certain that cats and raccoons are not hoofed animals.) While the researchers said they weren't able to break down this category any further, they said it is likely that the animals causing the most deaths in this group are cows and horses. Makes sense; large animals are dangerous, especially easily spooked horses.

2. Hornets, wasps and bees (509 deaths, 28.2%) -- Interestingly, 80.9% of the victims were men, while 93.1% were people over 35 years old.

3. Dogs (250 deaths, 13.9%) -- Children under age 4 comprised 34% of dog-fatality victims, who usually are members of the dog's family.

Those three categories alone make up 78.4% of total animal-caused human fatalities from 1999 through 2007. After that, there's a big drop-off. Here are the rest:

4. Nonvenomous insects and nonvertebrates (85 deaths)

5. Reptiles that weren't venomous snakes and lizards, alligators, or crocodiles (77)

6. Venomous spiders (70)

7. Venomous arthropods (such as fire ants) that weren't spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes (63)

8. Venomous snakes and lizards (59)

9. Marine animals (10)

10. Crocodiles and alligators (9)

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