Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Some Facts on Human Deaths in the United States

©1993 Philippe de Vosjoli, The Vivarium, 4(4):35. Expanded information by Melissa Kaplan


- Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States seeks medical attention for a dog bite–related injury.

- During 1979–1998, dog attacks killed more than 300 Americans.

- Nearly 800,000 people sought medical care for dog bites in 1994; half of them were children under 18.

From the CDC Injury Factbook: Dog Bites


Reptiles are very scary creatures to many people. Some reptiles, like many other animals kept as pets, can cause devastating wounds, transmit diseases to humans, and should always be treated with care and respect, no matter how tame they are. To put fears in perspective, the following facts are presented:

Human Deaths Caused By Animals

Animal Type

Per Year





Reticulated pythons3


Burmese pythons3


Other pythons3


Boa constrictors3


Other boas4



Human Deaths by Accidents

Type of Accident

Per Year (avg. 1986-88)

Motor vehicles5




Drowning during sports/recreation5


Domestic wiring and appliances5



Estimated human injuries by Horses in US in 1991: 71,4906


Additional Information

Number of dog bites reported in Contra Costa County, CA in 1996: 4007

35% of US homes have dogs
80% of all animal bites are from dogs
900 dog bite victims are treated in emergency rooms every day

Per the CDC, there are over 4.7 million dog bites a year (nearly 2% of the U.S. population);  800,000 of them serious enough to require hospitalization



1.   National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) estimated 105 deaths per year, but this would be low because many horse related injuries do not go to emergency rooms but to morgues (Bixby-Hammett, 1990). The figure 219 was determined using medical examiner figures and population (Bixby-Hammett, 1990).

2.   National Safety Council, Accident Facts, 1991 Edition, average between 1986-1988. Note: According to more recent CDC figures, the total number of deaths from dog bites between 1979-1994 was 279, or an average of 17.4 per year. There were an additional 25 deaths from dog attacks in 1995-1996. (MMWR, May 30, 1997 / 46(21);463-466 Dog-Bite-Related Fatalities -- United States, 1995-1996).

3.    Average between 1978 and 1988 (see McCarthy, V.O., Cox, R.A. and Haglund, B. 1989. "Death caused by a constricting snake - an infant death." Journal of Forensic Sciences, 31(1):239-243). There may have been one additional death by a Burmese python during that time period which would raise the figure for the Burmese to 0.2.

4.   There is a rumor of one individual in the U.S. killed by a green anaconda but we have not yet been able to substantiate this.

5.   Compiled from the National Safety Council, Accident Facts 1991 Edition, average between 1986-1988.

6.   Figures from National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. NEISS recorded horse-related accidents that go to emergency rooms at identified hospitals. The majority of the accidents (48.6%) occurred at home.

7.   NBC Evening News, September 1996. This was frequently announced in news stories on the air in the aftermath of several attacks by pitbulls and rottweilers in the (San Francisco, CA) bay area in the fall and winter of 1996. This does not include the dog maulings occurring in the area in 2000-2001, including one fatal attack.


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