People are terrified of shark attacks, but it turns out their fear is disproportionate to the danger our toothy friends actually pose.
Sharks kill just 10 people a year, a measly number when you compare it to the far more dangerous snake.
A graphic from Bill Gates’s blog, posted in 2014, estimates that venomous snakes kill 50,000 people every year.
However, deaths caused by snakebites are difficult to estimate because they tend to occur in very rural areas where they are often under reported.
One 2008 PLOS Medicine study estimates that the number of people who die of snakebites can be anywhere from 20,000 to 94,000 every year.
One reason that snakes are so dangerous is that many species have venom that often kill in a matter of minutes.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 600 of the known 3,000 species of snakes are venomous. Of these the WHO considers 200 of them to be “medically important,” meaning that they’re responsible for the most injuries, deaths, and disabilities.
For example, the Australian inland taipan snake can kill 100 people with the venom contained in a single bite, according to Australian Zoo. A victim of this plain-looking snake has just a precious half-hour to live and seek treatment after being bitten, according to the toxicology department at the University of California, San Diego.
Though it’s considered the most venomous snake, the inland taipan isn’t actually the most dangerous because it doesn’t encounter many people. According to National Geographic, the most dangerous snakes are the ones that live alongside people in areas where access to antivenom and medical care is limited. That’s one reason venomous snakes have such high fatality numbers.
“The most venomous snake is the one that bites you,” Steven Seifert, the director of the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center, told National Geographic.
Death by snake bite is not much of a problem In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimates 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by deadly snakes every year but just 5 people die — usually the ones that didn’t seek immediate medical care.
But other countries with less access to medical care are a different story: Approximately 11,000 people in India die from snake bites every year, according to the PLOS study.
Compared to sharks and other dangerous animals — like humans — snakes are up there in their kill rate. But there’s one tiny, annoying critter that’s kills far more people than venomous snakes and sharks combined.
Check out the video below to find out what it is.
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