Horses more deadly than snakes in Australia, data shows

Dr Ronelle Welton says her study challenges stereotypes about Australia Image copyright Paul Burston
Image caption Dr Ronelle Welton says her study challenges stereotypes about Australia

Horses killed more people in Australia in recent years than all venomous animals combined, research has shown.

The University of Melbourne's Dr Ronelle Welton examined hospital admissions data and coronial records.

From 2000 to 2013, horses were responsible for 74 deaths.

Bees and other stinging insects were the next most dangerous, causing 27 deaths, followed by snakes, which also claimed 27 lives but landed fewer people in hospital.

Spiders were not responsible for any deaths during that time, the research showed.

Challenging stereotypes

Dr Welton said the study, published in Internal Medicine Journal, challenged stereotypes around Australia's venomous animals.

The main focus of her study was animals that bite and sting, but she uncovered the number of horse-related deaths in the process.

"Australia is known as the epicentre of all things venomous," Dr Welton told the BBC.

But "what was surprising" was that insects caused the most people to seek treatment in hospital, she said.

Dr Welton said the research showed allergic reactions to bites or stings posed the most danger.

Bites and stings in Australia
Animal Deaths (2000 - 2013) Hospital visits (2001 - 2013)
Wasps, bees, hornets 27 (25 bees, 2 wasps) 12,351
Snakes 27 6,123
Spiders 0 11,994
Ticks and ants 5 4,533
Marine animals 3 (box jellyfish) 3,707
Centipedes/ millipedes 0 119
Scorpions 0 61
Unknown animal or plant 2 N/A
Source: University of Melbourne

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