Researchers from the University of Melbourne have revealed the most lethal animal in Australia in their study published in the Internal Medicine Journal on Tuesday. Their analysis of 13 years’ data on bites and stings show that bees and other insects, not snakes or jellyfish, top Australia’s most dangerous animals.
During the study, the research team noted 42,000 hospitalizations, 33 percent of which are caused by bees and wasps. Meanwhile, spider bites and snake bites made up 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of these cases.
The researchers also recorded 64 deaths from venomous sting or bite, 34 of which were due to allergic reaction that resulted to anaphylactic shock. Overall, 27 deaths were due to snake bites, 27 due to bees and wasps, three due to tick bites and ant bites and three due to box jellyfish. No deaths were caused by spider bites.
Ronelle Welton, a health expert at the Australian Venom Unit at the University of Melbourne, says that half of the deaths occurred at home while 64 percent occurred in major cities or areas where healthcare is available. It is believed that the reason for such high number of deaths is due to the people’s unwillingness to go seek medical help despite having healthcare facilities around.
It turns out that of all the snakebite fatalities, only three-quarters made it to the hospital while only 44 percent of allergic reaction from insect sting cases went to the hospital. This high number for allergic reaction might be because people fear insects less than snakes so they do not feel the need to seek medical attention.
Current national guidelines for prevention and treatment of venoms and stings are insufficient, Welton added. The researcher calls for more studies regarding these venomous creatures. “From a public health perspective, we can’t make informed decisions until we have a much clearer picture about what’s going on,” said Welton.