The healthcare cost for animal-related injuries in the United States exceeds $1 billion per year, according to the findings of a new study published in the BMJ journal Trauma Surgery and Acute Care Open on Tuesday.
This cost does not include doctors' fees, lost productivity, costs of rehabilitation, and outpatient clinic charges, which means the total costs are higher.
Researchers found that dog bites, bites from venomous snakes and lizards, and bites from non-venomous insects and spiders accounted for 60 percent of the total costs.
People who are most likely to be injured by bites from venomous snakes, insects, and spiders belong to the lowest 25 percent of household income for their ZIP code.
Animal bites also tend to be more common in people who live in rural and resource-poor settings. The researchers also found that the adult victims are usually the wage earners or the care providers of the family.
The findings were based on data submitted to the National Emergency Department Sample or NEDS)between the years 2010 and 2014.
Role Of Climate Change And Land Development
Study researcher Joseph Forrester, from the Department of Surgery at Stanford University, and colleagues also warned that the number of animal-related injuries is likely to increase amid increasing global temperatures and development pressure.
Warmer temperatures already expose people to more ticks and mosquitoes. Bites from these insects place people at risk of diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Researchers said that global warming is exacerbated by developmental sprawls that reduce the number of lands that animals exclusively use. The researchers said that human development and recreational activities can increase encounters with animals that in turn, raises odds for animal-related injuries.
"As available habitat for these animals increasingly overlaps with human development and recreational activities, it is expected encounters with these animals may increase and could result in increased animal-related injuries," the researchers wrote in their study.