Animal attack

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1941 poster for the Cleveland Division of Health encouraging dog bite victims to report dog bites to the proper authorities

Animal attacks are a cause of human injuries and fatalities worldwide.[1] Up to five million people in the U.S. are attacked by dogs each year.[2] The frequency of animal attacks varies with geographical location. In the United States, a person is more likely to be killed by a domesticated dog than they are to die from being hit by lightning according to the National Safety Council.[3]

Animal attacks have been identified as a major public health problem. "Unprovoked attacks occur when the animal approaches and attacks a person(s) who is the principle attractant, for example, predation on humans..."[4][5] In 1997, it was estimated that up to 2 million animal bites occur each year in the United States.[citation needed] Injuries caused by animal attacks result in thousands of fatalities worldwide every year.[6] All causes of death are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year. Medical injury codes are used to identify specific cases.[7] The World Health Organization uses identical coding, though it is unclear whether all countries keep track of fatalities caused by animals.[citation needed] Though animals, excluding some tigers, do not regularly hunt humans, there is concern that these incidents are " ...bad for many species 'public image'.”[8]

List of most fatal animals[edit]

This is a list of the deadliest animals to humans worldwide, due to animal attack as cause of death.[9]

  1. Mosquitoes kill an average of 1 million humans per year mostly from malaria
  2. Snakes kill an average of 50,000 humans per year from snakebite
  3. Dogs kill an average of 25,000 humans per year from dog bites causing rabies
  4. Tsetse flies kill an average of 10,000 humans per year from African trypanosomiasis
  5. Assassin Bugs kill an average of 10,000 humans per year from Chagas disease
  6. Freshwater Snails kill an average of 10,000 humans per year from Schistosomiasis
  7. Scorpions kill an average of 3,250 humans per year from Venom
  8. Ascaris roundworms kill an average of 2,500 humans per year from malnutrition, tissue problems and bowel obstruction
  9. Tapeworms kill an average of 2,000 humans per year from infection
  10. Crocodiles kill an average of 1,000 humans per year from crocodile attack
  11. Hippopotamus kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks
  12. Elephants kill an average of 500 humans per year from attacks
  13. Lions kill an average of 250 humans per year from attack
  14. African buffalo kill an average of 200 humans per year from attacks
  15. Deer kill an average of 130 humans per year from deer–vehicle collisions and cars swerving off the road
  16. Bees kill an average of 53 humans per year from bee stings
  17. Jellyfish kill an average of 40 humans per year from stings
  18. Ants kill an average of 30 humans per year from venom
  19. Leopards kill an average of 29 humans per year from leopard attack
  20. Horses kill an average of 20 humans per year from animal attack
  21. Wolves kill an average of 10 humans per year from wolf attack
  22. Sharks kill an average of 5 humans per year shark attack
  23. Alligators kill an average of 1 human per year from animal attack

Injuries and infections[edit]

Bite injuries are often the consequences of an animal attack, including those instances when a human attacks another human. Human bites are the third most frequent type of bite after dog and cat bites.[10] Dog bites are commonplace, with children the most commonly bitten and the face the most common target.[11] In 1936, amputation was required in one third of cases in which treatment was delayed for 24 hours or longer.[10]

Epidemiology and treatment[edit]

Animal bites are the most common form of injury from animal attacks. The US estimated annual count of animal bites is 250,000 human bites, 1 to 2 million dog bites, 400,000 cat bites, and 45,000 bites from snakes. Bites from skunks, horses, squirrels, rats, rabbits, pigs, and monkeys may be up to 1 percent of bite injuries. Pet ferrets attacks that were unprovoked have caused serious facial injuries. Non-domesticated animals, though assumed to be more common especially as a cause of rabies infection, make up less than one percent of reported bite wounds. When a person is bitten, it is more likely to occur on the right arm, most likely due to defensive reactions when the victims uses her or his dominant arm. Estimates are that three quarters of bites are located on the arms or legs of humans. Bites to the face of humans constitutes only 10 percent of the total. Two thirds of bite injuries in humans are suffered by children aged ten and younger. The subsequent treatment for those who have been attacked (if they survive) depends on the injuries. Though trauma may be addressed first, subsequent infections are also treated with appropriate antibiotics.[10]

Up to three fourths of dog bites happen to those younger than 20 years-old. In the United States, the costs associated with dog bites are estimated to be more than $1 billion annually. The age groups that suffer most from dog bites are children 5 to 9 years-old. Often, bites go unreported and no medical treatment given. As many as one percent of pediatric emergency room visits are for treatment for animal bites. This is more frequent during the summer months. Up to five percent of children receiving emergency care for dog bites are then admitted to the hospital. Bites typically occur in the late afternoon and early evening. Girls are bitten more frequently by cats than they are by dogs. Boys are bitten by dogs two times more often than girls.[10]

Medical codes for animal attacks[edit]

Injuries resulting from encounters with animals occur with sufficient frequency to require the use of medical codes by clinicians and insurance companies to document such encounters. The ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Codes are used for the purpose of clearly identifying diseases, their causes, injuries in the United States. Clinicians use these codes to quantify the medical condition and its causes and to bill insurance companies for the treatment required as a result of encounters with animals.

Code Description
W53 Contact with rodent
W54 Contact with dog
W55 Contact with other mammals
W56 Contact with nonvenomous marine animal
W57 Bitten or stung by nonvenomous insect and other nonvenomous arthropods
W58 Contact with crocodile or alligator
W59 Contact with other nonvenomous reptiles
W61 Contact with birds (domestic) (wild)
W62 Contact with nonvenomous amphibians
Reference: [12]

See also[edit]

External reading[edit]


  1. ^ "Animal bites". World Health Organization. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Patient education: Animal bites (Beyond the Basics)". UpToDate. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Injury Facts Chart". National Safety Council. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  4. ^ Angelici, Francesco (2016). Problematic wildlife : a cross-disciplinary approach. Cham: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-22246-2.
  5. ^ "Animal bites". World Health Organization. February 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  6. ^ Warrell, D.A. (1993). "Venomous bites and stings in the tropical world". Med J Aust. 159 (11–12): 773–779. PMID 8264466.
  7. ^ Langley, Ricky L.; Morrow, William E. (1997). "Deaths resulting from animal attacks in the United States". Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. 8 (1): 8–16. doi:10.1580/1080-6032(1997)008[0008:drfaai];2. PMID 11990139.
  8. ^ "What animals like to eat humans?". Quora. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  9. ^ The 24 deadliest animals on Earth, ranked, CNET, 15 October 2016, Jessica Learish
  10. ^ a b c d Cherry, James (2014). Feigin and Cherry's textbook of pediatric infectious diseases – Animal and Human Bites, Morven S. Edwards. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders. ISBN 978-1-4557-1177-2; Access provided by the University of Pittsburgh
  11. ^ Kenneth M. Phillips (27 December 2009). "Dog Bite Statistics". Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Exposure to animate mechanical forces W50-W64".


  • Egerton, L. ed. 2005. Encyclopedia of Australian wildlife. Reader's Digest ISBN 1-876689-34-X
  • "The Man-Eater of Jowlagiri", from Nine Man-Eaters and One Rogue, Kenneth Anderson, Allen & Unwin, 1955
  • CrocBITE
  • "Fatal Alligator Attacks". Southeastern Outdoors. Retrieved 31 March 2006.
  • "Alligator Attacks Fact sheet, p.4-5 (updated 11/29/05)" (PDF). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 May 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2006.
  • Anitei, Stefan. "The Limits of the Human Nose: How much can a human smell?" Softpedia. 22 January 2007. 17 November 2008 [1]
  • Batin, Christopher. "Bear Attacks!" Outdoor Life 210.6 (2003): 46.
  • Brandt, Anthony. "Attack". Outdoor Life 197.1 (1996): 52.
  • Cardall, Taylor Y. and Peter Rosen. "Grizzly Bear Attack". The Journal of Emergency Medicine 24.3 (2003): 331–333.
  • "Death Statistics Comparison". 7 December 2008. 7 December 2008. [2]
  • Driscoll, Jamus. "Bears on the Rampage". Outdoor Life 197.2 (1996): 20.
  • The Fear of Wolves – review of wolfs (sic) attacks on humans
  • Fergus, Charles. Wild Guide: Bears. Mechanisburg, PA; Stackpole Books, 2005.
  • Guo, Shuzhong, et al. "Human facial allotransplantation: a 2-year follow-up study". The Lancet 372.9639 (2008): 631–638.
  • Masterson, Linda. Living with Bears. Masonville, CO; PixyJack Press, LLC, 2006.
  • Simmons, Shraga. "Olympic Champions". 22 August 2004. 17 November 2008. [3]
  • "Teeth". The Internet Encyclopedia of Science: Anatomy & Physiology. 17 November 2008. [4]
  • Ward, Paul and Suzanne Kynaston. Wild Bears of the World. United Kingdom: Cassell plc, 1995
  • Whitman, David. "The Return of the Grizzly". Atlantic Monthly 286.3 (2000): 26–31.

External links[edit]

Media related to Animal attacks at Wikimedia Commons