Objective: To evaluate the causes of human fatalities in the United States from 1991 to 2001 that were caused by venomous and nonvenomous animal encounters exclusive of zoonotic infections or animal-vehicle collisions.
Methods: An inquiry of CDC Wonder, a database for epidemiologic research, was used to provide information on animal-related fatalities on the basis of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes.
Results: From 1991 to 2001, 1943 persons died in the United States after venomous and non-venomous animal encounters. An average of 177 fatalities per year were recorded. Venomous animal encounters were responsible for 39% of the fatalities. White males appear to be the group most likely to die from an encounter. Most fatalities occurred in the southern United States.
Conclusions: Although the average number of fatalities from animal encounters has increased compared with the previous decade, the death rate has remained essentially unchanged. The medical and financial costs from both fatal and nonfatal animal encounters have a significant impact on public health.