The Most Distinctive Causes Of Death In The U.S. By State According To The CDC Might Not Be What You Think They Are
We're all more likely to die from some causes than from others — but apparently the causes by which we're most likely to die depend on which state you live in. The CDC recently released a study and an accompanying map detailing the weirdest ways to die in the U.S. by state, and, well… let's just say that I'm considering moving now. I would really rather not die of blood poisoning; that sounds like an immensely painful way to go.
Perhaps “weirdest” isn't the most accurate way to describe these causes of death; the study's official title is “The Most Distinctive Causes of Death by State, 2001 – 2010,” which translates to something like, “Causes of Death That Spike Way the Hell Up in Specific States Compared to the National Average, 2001 – 2010.” The researchers calculated their findings by taking a look at the rate of occurrence for 113 causes of death from the CDC for each state, then dividing it by the rate of occurrence for that same cause of death in the U.S. overall. And the results? They're rather sobering. Plenty of them took me by surprise, mostly because they're the sorts of things I read about in books that take place in centuries gone by, but which I didn't realize were still issues today.
As Science Times notes, it's worth remembering that “just because a particular cause of death is shown on the map, that doesn't mean it is the most common way to die in that particular state.” The goal of the study was to highlight public health risks and get a conversation going — so if you live in Idaho, don't worry: It's not a given that you'll die in a plane crash.
Here are six of what I found to be the most interesting causes of deaths and the states in which they occur more often than they do anywhere else in the country; check out the full map over at the CDC's website.
1. Tuberculosis — Texas
I had no idea tuberculosis was so prevalent in Texas, but apparently there were 1,222 cases of it in the state in 2013 — meaning that roughly 4.6 people for every 100,000 had it. 9,582 TB cases were reported in the U.S. as a whole that year, so Texas accounted for a pretty good chunk all on its own.
2. Syphilis — Louisiana
Let's all take this moment to remind ourselves of two things: One, always use protection; and two, get tested regularly. But hey, at least the actual number isn't terribly high; according to Science Times, syphilis only accounted for 22 deaths in Louisiana during the study's time frame.
3. Septicemia — New Jersey
What exactly is the state of New Jersey doing to account for so many deaths due to blood infection? I'm not entirely sure I want to know, and I live here. Oof.
4. Legal Intervention — New Mexico, Oregon, and Nevada
According to TIME, the CDC defines legal intervention deaths as “deaths due to injuries inflicted by police or other law enforcement agents, including military on duty, in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest lawbreakers, suppressing disturbances, maintaining order, and performing other legal actions.” The rates are triple the national average in Nevada and Oregon and quadruple in New Mexico.
5. Pneumoconiosis and Chemical Effects — Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky
As a number of outlets have pointed out, this one is perhaps not terribly surprising. Pneuomoconiosis is also known as black lung disease; it's caused by inhaling large amounts of coal dust over an extended amount of time, and the three states that have more deaths due to it are all coal-producing states.
6. Uh… Stuff — Georgia
On the CDC's map, the state of Georgia is the only one labeled “R” — which, it turns out, means “Symptoms, signs, and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified.” If you died from some sort of disease or displayed symptoms that don't fall under any of the other illness categories displayed on the map, you'll be labeled an R.