Thinking we might fool somebody, we began our February story about the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) with “The most dangerous creature in the world is not what you think it might be.”
Of course, it’s not the shark at all. Sharks kill fewer than 50 people per year, most of whom get dispatched by mistake. But we were way off when we said the deadliest animal in the world was human.
According to the blog Bill Gates keeps on the web (“Gates Notes”), it’s the lowly mosquito that takes the prize for most fatal of animals (although death by shark or human may occur more swiftly). The insect’s kills number over 700,000 a year, more than our own by a quarter million. Gates tells us that skeeters, found everywhere on earth but Antarctica, carry devastating diseases:
“The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.”
Considering we second-rate humans already have a Shark Week on the calendar, Bill Gates has declared seven days in April Mosquito Week. “Everything I’m posting this week is dedicated to this deadly creature…. I can’t promise that Anopheles Gambiae will be quite as exciting as hammerheads and Great Whites. But maybe you’ll come away with a new appreciation for these flying masters of mayhem.”
Thanks, Bill. We stand corrected.