Deaths from bites and stings of venomous animals

West J Med. 1980 Dec;133(6):463-8.


Data abstracted from 34 death certificates indicate that the three venomous animal groups most often responsible for human deaths in California from 1960 through 1976 were Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants and the like) (56 percent), snakes (35 percent) and spiders (6 percent). An average incidence of 2.0 deaths per year occurred during these 17 years, or an average death rate of 0.01 per 100,000 population per year. Nearly three times more males than females died of venomous animal bites and stings. Half of the deaths from venomous snake bites occurred in children younger than 5 years of age. Susceptible persons 40 years or older appeared to be particularly vulnerable to hymenopterous insect stings and often quickly died of anaphylaxis. Fatal encounters with venomous animals occurred more often around the home than at places of employment or during recreational activities. Deaths resulting from spider bites are rare in California but many bites are reported. Medical practitioners are urged to seek professional assistance in identifying offending animals causing human discomfort and to use these animals' scientific names on death certificates and in journal articles.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bites and Stings / mortality*
  • California
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insect Bites and Stings / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Snake Bites / mortality
  • Spider Bites / mortality