Alligators and crocodiles landed in the #10 spot in the CDC's database. Photo: Shutterstock
Whether it's by stinging, crushing, biting, butting, kicking, or any other variety of accidental or nefarious means, animals injure millions and kill hundreds of people every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps a database of the fatalities. Dr. Joseph Forrester and colleagues pulled all of the agency's statistics from 1999 to 2007, organized and analyzed what they found, and then wrote a paper appropriately titled "Fatalities From Venomous and Nonvenomous Animals in the United States (1999–2007)."
Some motivation to write the paper, which was published this past June in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, came from Forrester's job as a general surgery resident. He sees small children who have been bitten in the face by dogs. And some motivation came from further afield: Forrester has paddled down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers with the help of his brother Jared, and the two have climbed mountains from Africa to South America. "Whenever we are traveling in these areas, it is easy to let one's mind drift and wonder, What if?" Forrester says. "Particularly with respect to aggressive animals. We wanted to see how our perception of animal-related fatalities corresponded to reality as defined by the CDC database."
Here's a breakdown of what they found, by the numbers.