What’s the Deadliest Animal in the World?

What’s the deadliest animal in the world? You might be surprised at the answer: the mosquito. This, from Quartz Obsession:

“The great science writer Isaac Asimov was stumped by the mosquito. “Human beings can easily destroy every elephant on earth, but we are helpless against the mosquito,” he wrote. Indeed, the minuscule bloodsuckers kill hundreds of thousands of humans each year, earning the notorious distinction of being the deadliest animal in the world.

According to the WHO, more than half the world’s population lives in areas where Aedes aegypti, the yellow-fever mosquito, is present. Zika, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile virus: All begin with a bite from these tiny vampires. Others transmit elephantiasis, encephalitis, and malaria.”

There are 3000 known mosquito species, and we spend 5 billion dollars a year trying to repel them. DEET is the best repellent, although use of DEET has markedly decreased because of fear of its cancer-causing properties.

I must confess that in Panama, where spray containing DEET is available, I use it when we are going into mosquito-prone areas like the zip line in El Valle. I particularly spray it around my ankles, which creates what I call my “DEET feet”. I know the risk, but dengue and chickungunya are real risks too.

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