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Everything In Australia Wants To Kill You, In This Order

The most lethal venomous animal in Australia is not a spider.

18/01/2017 9:47 AM AEDT | Updated 18/01/2017 6:54 PM AEDT
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Australia is great, really. Come visit.

Australia has more than its fair share of dangerous animals -- including two-metre killer birds, misunderstood sharks and 21 of the world's 25 most deadly snakes -- but the venomous animals responsible for the most deaths and hospitalisations may surprise you.

Bees.

Yes, bees. Givers of honey and pollinators of the world.

A University of Melbourne study has found that of all the venomous animals in Australia, bees and wasps posed the biggest public health risk, killing 27 people and causing 33 percent of all venomous hospitalisations between 2000 and 2013.

Venomous Australian Animal Deaths

Bees -- 27 deaths

Snakes -- 27 deaths

Jellyfish -- three deaths

Tick bites -- three deaths

Ant bites -- two deaths

Unknown insects -- two deaths

Source: Internal Medicine Journal

The study, published in the Internal Medicine Journal, found that of the 64 people killed by venomous animals, 27 were killed by snakes, three by tick bites, three by jellyfish and two by ant bites.

You might notice there's no mention of spiders in that list.

That's because fatal spider bites are incredibly rare, and no one died in the 13-year study period.

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Poor Aussie spiders are unfairly maligned.

University of Melbourne Australian Venom Unit academic Ronelle Welton said people didn't grasp the seriousness of bee anaphylaxis compared to a snake bite, as three-quarters of snakebite fatalities made it to hospital compared to 44 per cent of people who died from an allergic reaction to an insect sting.

"Perhaps it's because bees are so innocuous that most people don't really fear them in the same way they fear snakes," Welton says.

"Without having a previous history of allergy, you might get bitten and although nothing happens the first time, you've still developed an allergic sensitivity."

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Ronelle Welton knows about venomous creatures.

The study also found that more than half of deaths happened at home, and 64 percent happened in major cities, where hospitals and doctors are relatively accessible.

"From a public health perspective, we can't make informed decisions until we have a much clearer picture about what's going on," she said.

"For example, in South Australia, there are a lot more stings and anaphylaxis from bees. In Queensland there are more snake bites. In Tasmania, their biggest issue is jumper ant anaphylaxis.

"So the clinical management needs to vary for each state and territory."

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