Deadliest animals in the world

By Marilynn McLachlan

Photos / Thinkstock
Photos / Thinkstock

Many people have a fear of sharks, snakes or spiders but what do we really need to be afraid of?

A powerful infographic released on Bill Gates' blog about the deadliest animals in the world shows an unexpected contender taking the number one spot.

Here is the deadly countdown.

11. Shark

Ever since the release of Jaws, there has been a perception of sharks as vicious human-eaters. However, in reality, they don't seek out humans for food. While there are hundreds of species of sharks, the great white, tiger shark and bull shark are largely responsible for the attacks on human that do occur.

Average number of deaths per year: 10

Read more:
Australia shark cull fails to catch a single great white blamed for fatalities

11. Wolf

Wolves also have a reputation for fatally wounding humans. France tops the list for historically having the most fatalities. Nowadays wolves tend to live far away from humans, having learned to avoid them. Most attacks now occur in India and surrounding countries.

Average number of deaths per year: 10

10. Lion

Lions that are starved, old or sick are prone to actively walk into human areas in search for food, with documented cases of these big cats seizing humans from villages. A single lion can be responsible for over 50 human deaths. The worst spree of lion attacks was in 1932 when a large pride of lions went on a spate of attacks in Tanzania, killing an estimated 1500-2000 people.

Average number of deaths per year: 100

10. Elephant

Elephants are the largest land animal in the world and an angry elephant is extremely dangerous. Despite being naturally docile creatures, elephants - usually young males - can charge at humans, trampling and kicking them to death.

Average number of deaths per year: 100

9. Hippopotamus

These herbivores - with their large body and short, stubby legs - may seem passive but they are extremely aggressive and territorial. Their unpredictable nature and lack of fear of humans means they will attack and kill, especially if their young are near.

Average number of deaths per year: 500

8. Crocodile

Crocs can grow to over two metres long and have mastered the art of camouflage. They are extremely fast, have no distinct fear of humans and will attack for food. The Nile crocodile and saltwater crocodile are the most well-known species of this deadly reptile.

Average number of deaths per year: 1000

7. Tapeworm

Tapeworms live in the intestines of some animals. Humans can become infected by eating undercooked meat from infected animals. There are six types of tapeworms know to infect people. While they mostly live in the intestines, they can travel around the body, including the brain.

Average number of deaths per year: 2000

6. Ascaris roundworm

Ascaris roundworms, also known as the "small intestine roundworms", use the body as a host to mature from larvae or eggs to adult worms - which can be more than 30cm long. Causing Ascariasis, it occurs most often in young children in tropical and subtropical regions, especially where sanitation and hygiene are poor. After ingesting the eggs, they hatch in the small intestine before migrating to the lungs as larvae and returning to the intestine as adults to live.

Average number of deaths per year: 2500

5. Freshwater snail

Freshwater snails live in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. People can ingest their eggs when drinking water, causing schistosomiasis when the eggs hatch microscopic worms. This deadly disease causes, among other symptoms, vomiting blood and paralysis of legs, with children being the most likely victims.

Average number of deaths per year: 10,000

5. Assassin bug

The Assassin bug, also known as the "kissing bug" can pass on the deadly Chagas disease to humans by its vectors. It has two phases, the first of which lasts for around two months after infection when the parasites circulate in the blood. It can cause fever, difficulties breathing and chest pain. In the next phase, the parasites hide in the heart and digestive tract and can cause sudden death or heart failure.

Average number of deaths per year: 10,000

5. Tsestse fly

Also known as "tik-tik" flies, these biting flies feed on the blood of animals and certain species can cause Human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness. The first stage of the sickness causes fever, headaches and joint pains. In the second stage, parasites cross the blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous system, causing disturbances of the sleep cycle and without treatment, death.

Average number of deaths per year: 10,000

4. Dog

When bitten by a dog infected with rabies, the disease is passed on to humans. The initial symptoms are fever, tingling and burning at the wound site. The virus then spreads throughout the central nervous system, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Those with furious rabies are hyperactive with hydrophobia and sometime aerophobia. Death occurs after a few days. For those with paralytic rabies, it is less dramatic and lasts longer as the muscles become paralysed. A coma slowly develops and eventually death occurs.

Average number of deaths per year: 25,000

3. Snake

There are around 3000 snake species in the world - about 600 species are venomous. Their fangs bite with precision, injecting venom into victims. Most snake bite deaths occur in India, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Average number of deaths per year: 50,000

2. Human

Whether intentional or unintentional, other humans are number two on the list.

Average number of deaths per year: 475,000

1. Mosquito

Mosquitos carry devastating diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis. There are more than 2500 species of mosquito - the third biggest animal population after termites and ants. It is the deadliest creature in the world. While mosquitos kill hundreds of thousands, they are also debilitating for another 200 million. It is these statistics that prompted Bill Gates to create the list and launch "Mosquito Week" as a "Shark Week" spin off.

Average number of deaths per year: 725,000

Photos / Thinkstock

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