The Deadliest Animals in America? Not Sharks , Alligators or Bears

Two beloved animals cause more deaths than a feared predator such as the shark. Find out which animals pose the greatest danger.

What do sharks, alligators and bears have in common?

For one, they’re not among the animals most likely to kill you.

Each of these three species kills about one person per year in the U.S., according to a Washington Post report. By contrast, dogs kill 28 people and cows 20, on average.

But it’s not some fearsome finned or four-legged beast, but rather insects that pose the greatest danger. Bees, wasps and hornets are most likely to kill you. They collectively kill 58 people each year in the U.S., mostly as a result of anaphylactic shock — a severe allergic reaction — brought on by their sting, the newspaper found.

For this analysis, reporter Christopher Ingraham culled statistics on animal-caused deaths in the U.S. between 2001 and 2013. Most of the statistics came from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online databases known as WONDER (short for “wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research”).

The average number of American deaths attributed to animals each year:

  • Bees, wasps and hornets: 58
  • Various mammals (such as horses, pigs and deer): 52
  • Dogs: 28
  • Cows: 20
  • Non-poisonous bugs (such as ants): 9
  • Spiders: 7
  • Venomous snakes and lizards: 6
  • Bears: 1
  • Alligators: 1
  • Sharks: 1

Those figures exclude deaths caused by vehicle collisions with animals.

On that note, though, Ingraham reports that deaths by animals represent “just an infinitesimal fraction of total deaths — less than 0.008 percent of all deaths each year.”

By contrast, there are 33,000 deaths by car accident each year.

As Ingraham concludes:

“Think of it this way: If it’s safe enough for you to drive to the beach, it’s definitely safe enough to go in the water.”

To learn about guarding against accidental deaths of various kinds, check out “4 Common Forms of Accidental Death and How to Avoid Them.”

What do you make of this news? Were you surprised to learn which insects and animals are responsible for the most deaths? Let us know below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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