June 2017: Stopping the world’s second deadliest animal, one bite at a time

Have you ever asked your kids or a group of friends what they think is the world’s deadliest animal?  It’s a great conversation starter. My kids kicked about some ideas when we asked them – sharks are pretty vicious, but they don’t have access to that many people ocean-bound as they are; maybe lions, they’re not called king of the jungle for nothing; rhinos are very heavy, if you live in Melbourne you know for sure a rhino on a skateboard is just as dangerous as a tram.

In reality, sharks come in at #20 on the world’s deadliest list, lions at #14 and poor old mis-represented rhinos don’t make the list at all.

Up nearer the top of the list of world’s deadliest animals, the tinsy-tiny-hugely-annoying mosquito is coming in at #2. Mosquitos are carriers of fatal diseases – malaria and dengue anyone? – which kill up to 1,000,000 people every year.

In 2016 there were 216,000,000 cases of malaria globally, and 445,000 malaria deaths. Seventy per cent of malaria cases are children under five.

The most effective way to avoid contracting malaria, is to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito.  And long-lasting insecticidal nets, providing protection during overnight sleep when those annoying pesky mozzies are most active, are the most effective way to avoid getting bitten.  Yes, more effective even than the good old mozzie zapper we used to all have in our back yards – ah, the serenity of mozzies getting fried against the electrical wires.

Nets are cheap – $2 each. The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) spends 100% of donated funds on nets and ensures the nets get to those who need them most.

Our June funds went to AMF. CEO Rob Mather sent us this (presumably auto-generated but lovely all the same) email: I am catching up on some of the recent donations to AMF and wished to thank you for your generosity and support. It is very much appreciated. 100% of your AUS$829.21 donation will buy 289 long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and protect an estimated 520 people. That’s an entire village. Brilliant.

In our first month of effective altruism we were told we had helped an entire village. I can’t begin to tell you the joy this brought me – and still does – and to see my kids high-five each other when they read Rob’s email was priceless.

And, in case you’re left wondering… the world’s #1 deadliest animal?  Humans.