Whenever there's a shark attack, everyone starts panicking as if "Jaws" just leapt off the movie screen and into the nearest ocean.
Those of you who fear going into the water might want to take a breath and just go for a swim. The truth is there are a bunch of other animals that are way more likely to kill you in ways you'll probably never see coming.
This week, the Washington Post's Wonkblog decided to take a look at the number of animal-related deaths that occur in America each year after two recent attacks off the coast of North Carolina put sharks back on notice for the summer (God, I miss Stephen Colbert). The surprising numbers, pulled from the US Centers for Disease Control's Wonder database, which provides access to a wide array of public-health information, revealed that Americans have a greater chance of death by cow than death by shark.
The numbers collected for the survey consisted of all animal-related fatalities registered with the CDC between 2001 and 2013.
The data shows that sharks, alligators and bears only killed an average of one person every year during those years, whereas cows killed an average of 20 people annualy, mostly in work-related injuries on cattle farms. That number would of course have been a lot higher had the survey counted high cholesterol or choking on a hunk of steak as an animal-related fatality. I like to think of the latter demise as a ghost cow's sweet revenge.
Dogs; miscellaneous mammals such as horses and pigs; and bees, wasps and hornets rounded out the top three spots on the list. Bees, wasps and hornets made it all the way to No. 1 with an average of 58 human deaths per year thanks to allergic reactions that led to anaphylactic shock.
Fortunately, the Washington Post compiled all of this data into a handy chart so you can have evidence to back up your uncontrollable fears about stinging insects and pigs the next time you make a visit to your friendly neighborhood therapist.