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While countless movies where sharks are the enemy may lead people to believe that they are responsible for a ton of deaths, the reality is that other animals are more of a risk to Americans than sharks are. And some of these animals may surprise you.
According to a new study, about 200 people in the United States die every year due to animal attacks as approximately $2 billion in healthcare spending are “attributable annually to problematic animal encounters.” The culprit behind the majority of these attacks? Venomous attacks by insects, dog bites and farm incidents. Yep, sharks aren’t even at the top of the list.
During the study period from from 2008-2015, there were about 86 deaths annually from venomous encounters, with the most lethal being stings and subsequent anaphylaxis from bees, wasps, and hornets. For comparison, the U.S. averages less than 20 shark attacks per year, and only one shark-related fatality every other year.
As for nonvenomous encounters, a range of domestic and human-associated mammals including cats, horses, cows, pigs, and raccoons made up the bulk of the fatalities, most of which occurred on farms. The two largest culprits for human mortality were horse or cattle accidents. While the database doesn’t reveal exactly how individual animal-related deaths occurred, the study states that humans can be harmed by animals through “bites, stings, strikes, crushing, or contact.”
That’s right, kids. Be careful when you go to that petting zoo because a horse or a cow can kick the hell out of you. Hell, even pigs get in on the action, too, according to the study.
“The risk of death due to domesticated animals such as farm animals and dogs far outweigh those due to any wild animals,” lead author Jared A. Forrester, of Stanford University’s Department of Surgery, said. “The rates of death due to wild animals remained exceedingly low.”
The study also shows that when comparing data of deaths due to animal attacks from 1999-2007 to today’s numbers, there was no decrease. So yes, we’re pissing animals off and they are fighting back. We deserve this.