Aug
6
2018

 

Man’s best friend comes in third on the list of America’s deadliest animals. He’s right behind venomous insects, which are number two. So who takes the top spot on the list of America’s deadliest animals?

It’s not mountain lions, rattlesnakes, or grizzly bears.

It’s farm animals, according to a new study.

That’s according to researchers from Stanford University, who analyzed mortality rates associated with both venomous and nonvenomous animals in the US from 2008–2015. The study found that there were 1,610 animal-related deaths in that time. Of those, 57% were from nonvenomous animals.

And although the researchers say many of those deaths were potentially avoidable, the study showed no decrease in mortality rates from animal encounters in previous years.

“We found that the rates of death from encounters with animals has remained relatively stable from the last time we preformed this analysis (1999–2007),” said lead investigator Jared A. Forrester, MD, a surgical research fellow at Stanford University. “Importantly, most deaths are not actually due to wild animals like mountain lions, wolves, bears, sharks, etc., but are a result of deadly encounters with farm animals; anaphylaxis from bees, wasps, or hornet stings; and dog attacks.”

That’s bad news for people who’ve been kicked, stung, or bitten by the top three placeholders on the list, but it’s good news for people who love the outdoors: “While it is important that people recreating in the wilderness know what to do when they encounter a potentially dangerous animal, the actual risk of death is quite low,” Forrester said.

With 576 attributed deaths, the most common nonvenomous-encounter group in the study was “other mammals,” which includes cats, horses and other hoofstock, and raccoons. Previous studies determined that the majority of deaths associated with “other mammals” occur on farms and that horses and cattle account for 90% of farm accidents.

Dogs were the most common type of fatal nonvenomous- animal encounter after farm animals, with children under four years of age having the highest dog-related fatality rate (4.6 deaths per 10 million people). The rate of children under four years of age killed by dogs was almost two times higher than the next most vulnerable group (persons older than 65 years of age) and four times higher than other age groups.

Dog-related encounters accounted for 272 deaths, an average of 34 per year.

“Unfortunately, deaths due to human-animal encounters did not decrease from our prior study,” Forrester said.

Each year, there are about 200 animal-related deaths in the US. And nonlethal animal encounters are responsible for one million emergency room visits and two billion dollars in healthcare costs.

The researchers suggest that the number of animal-related deaths remaining stable isn’t necessarily a good thing.

They said dog-related child deaths are “preventable,” and there are proven solutions for sting-induced anaphylaxis, such as EpiPens. As for fatal farm animal incidents, the researchers said preventing them should be a public health initiative.

In short, we ought to be doing better.

Photo credit: © iStock/GlobalIP

The Standard of Veterinary Excellence ®
American Animal Hospital Association | Copyright © 2018 | Privacy Statement | Contact Us