OK, What Really is the Most Dangerous Animal Travellers Might Expect to Encounter in Australia?
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Australia is a land of many deadly creatures. The saltwater crocodile, 9 of the 10 most venomous snakes in the world, the tree dwelling Northern and ground crawling Sydney Funnel web spiders, the red back spider, in the ocean you have the great white and tiger sharks, the blue ringed octopus, stone fish, cone shells with deadly stinging darts the Portuguese man of war, the iracongi Jellyfish as well as poisonous water snakes.
It's a wonder there are any people at all in Australia.
But with so many deadly and dangerous creatures.... What animal should rightfully hold the mantle as Australia's most dangerous animal? The King Brown? The Great White Shark? Think again, and think smaller.
If the test for which creature is the most dangerous is the animal causing the most deaths..... the most dangerous creature in Australia is the common honey bee with 20 recorded victims between 1980 and 1990, compared to 11 from shark attacks and 8 from crocodiles. Now I hear what you are thinking, you'd prefer to take your chances with a bee than a 7 meter crocodile or shark and as I have no allergy to bees, I'm with you on that one.
Let's change the test from causing the most deaths, to the animal causing the most disease or injury. In many countries if this test is used the title of most dangerous animal is held by the common house fly. The common house fly feeds on rotting things where bacteria is also found. Rotting vegetation, meat,
feces are all fly food, and bacteria breeding grounds. The common house fly can carry many types of bacteria that cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, Malaria, typhoid... but these diseases are rare in Australia due to their remoteness from the heartland of these diseases, high vaccination levels and having the modern hygiene standards of a 1st world country.
So if not the common house fly then what IS the most dangerous animal when travelling in Australia.
It's the mosquito. Australia is home to many different types of mosquito, but more important, Australia is home to many forms of dangerous mosquito borne diseases, notably Murray Valley encephalitis, Dengue Fever(both of which can be fatal in some rare cases) as well as Ross River and Barmah viruses which though unlikely to kill can cause serious health problems for the patient for months or even years to come. Infections rates are difficult to predict as many people exhibit no or minor symptoms, but of those with symptoms serious enough to warrant investigation, over 3400 cases were reported in 2008 according to the Australia Bureau of statistics.
So if you are travelling Australia, make sure your life insurance is updated (lol, but seriously, at least check you've got adequate travel health insurance). By all means check your shoes for spiders when you put them on in the morning, make a lot of noise when walking through the bush to scare away the snakes. Don't go swimming in crocodile or marine stinger infested waters, or murky river mouths. Don't pick up cone shells, or go walking about bare foot on exposed coral reefs.
But most importantly, don't wait for the first mosquitoes to start biting you before you take action to protect yoruself. Sure, when you swat one that was biting you, you've just rubbed out one of Australia's most dangerous creatures but as it's already bitten you, it might already be too late for you to prevent getting infected with some nasty disease.