It’s probably not going to be a shark that gets you.
Nothing says summer entertainment quite like monstrous beasts thirsty for human blood. But no matter what Steven Spielberg, certain ratings-hungry networks, or beachgoers in North Carolina might tell you, sharks really aren’t out to get you. Snails and dogs, though? You might want to keep your eye on them. Find out more about the world’s deadliest animals below.
Despite their sharp teeth and insatiable appetites, shark attacks are incredibly rare. Only 10 people died from shark attacks in 2013.
You aren’t likely to encounter a tsetse fly at your typical suburban barbecue. But in mid-continental Africa, these large biting insects transmit human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, which—if not treated quickly—moves to the central nervous system, altering your personality, speech, and motor skills before it kills you.
Chagas disease is spread by another tiny troublemaker, the bloodsucking triatomine, or “assassin bug.” (Actually, it’s a parasite in the bug’s stomach that causes the problem.) Triatomines mostly live in Latin America, where they spend their days hiding in the walls of adobe, mud, and straw houses; at night, they feed on human faces, which is why triatomines have another nickname: “kissing bugs.” After they feed, triatomines defecate, which is what leads to transmission of the disease.
It’s hard to believe that man’s best friend could be so deadly, but dogs are the primary cause of human rabies deaths. The disease is especially prominent in poor, rural communities where access to vaccines is rare. By the time a human shows early symptoms of rabies, it’s almost always too late for treatment. Rabies has a near-100 percent fatality rate.
Found in soil contaminated with human feces or in uncooked food, Ascaris lumbricoides or roundworms wreak havoc across the globe. Close to 10 percent of the population in the developing world suffers from intestinal worms, most of them caused by Ascaris. These infections lead to approximately 60,000 deaths worldwide, mainly taking the lives of children.
Do you have “snail fever”? For your sake, we hope not. Also known as schistosomiasis, snail fever is caused by snails that have been infected by parasitic worms. Found in contaminated freshwater, the parasite attaches to humans, burns a hole in the skin, then burrows deep inside, occasionally migrating to the brain.
It’s true: Humans are more dangerous than sharks, as well as nearly every other animal on this list. Intentional homicide takes approximately half a million lives a year. Eight out of every 10 homicide victims are men, though the majority of those killed by domestic violence are women.
Who would’ve thought such small insects could cause so much tragedy? This pest spreads malaria at an alarming rate around the world, and for those infected, the outlook isn’t good. Out of 200 million malaria cases last year, 725,000 resulted in death.