Monday, April 6, 2015

Of mosquitoes and men: The world’s deadliest animals

Many people are interested in learning about the world’s deadliest animals. Most think of man-eating tigers or sharks when thinking about the animals that kill the most humans.
But it’s disease-carrying mosquitoes that claim the most human lives every year. Just ask philanthropist Bill Gates, who is leading the charge to eradicate malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Last April, for Mosquito Week, Gates wrote an article titled “The Deadliest Animal in the World.” It included a nice infographic showing that no animal comes close to mosquitoes in terms of the number of people killed each year.
The graphic puts human deaths from mosquito-borne illnesses at 725,000 a year.
In 2011, I found research that put annual mosquito-linked deaths at 800,000 a year.
For his graphic, Gates lists humans as the second most dangerous animal in the world, responsible for 475,000 deaths a year.
Snakes are third with 50,000 human deaths. The next six deadly animals either carry diseases, such as dogs with rabies, or are parasites, such as tapeworms.
For my article “How many people do animals kill a year?” I found reports that would put scorpions and jellyfish in the top 10. Also, untold numbers of people die each year from allergic reactions to bee and wasp stings.
The article was part of a series I did on animal attacks called “The world’s deadliest animals.”

Graphic from Gates Notes (top); and a revamped version using the same research (below).

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