A 76-year-old woman died after being pecked by a rooster in South Australia, a recent case study reports.
The aggressive bird attacked the woman’s leg while she was collecting eggs from her chicken coop, causing her to bleed to death.
“This case demonstrates that even relatively small domestic animals may be able to inflict lethal injuries in individuals if there are specific vascular vulnerabilities present,” the researchers write in their report, published in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology.
The woman suffered from varicose veins, enlarged veins found in some people’s legs. Though varicose veins are typically benign, hers were large enough that they got in the way of her walking. The rooster pecked her lower left leg, causing significant bleeding. The woman called out to her husband for help, leaving a trail of blood on the way to her house. She collapsed in her driveway and died before help could arrive, according to the case study.
Upon autopsy, the researchers found nothing that directly contributed to her death other than rooster peck-induced blood loss.
This is far from the first time a rooster has attacked a human, and the researchers found several cases of roosters pecking out eyes. But death by rooster is rare. The researchers found only three such cases: one involving a 16-month old and another involving a 2-year-old, both of whom died from rooster pecks to the head; in the third case, a 35-year-old died after being sliced by a metal spur attached to a cockfighting rooster.
But the researchers point out that this case is different, since the woman’s varicose veins made her especially vulnerable to excessive bleeding.
So, if you have varicose veins, be cautious around sharp objects, be they knives, claws, or the beaks of aggressive roosters. The authors write: “Individuals with varicose veins should, therefore, be aware of potential, albeit rare, dangers from domestic animals.”