A rooster pecked an elderly Australian woman to death, an exceptionally rare instance of a domesticated bird fatally attacking a human.
As Fox News reports, the 76-year-old woman had been collecting eggs at her Australian home when she somehow provoked an aggressive rooster. The animal began pecking her in her lower legs, and in one peck, managed to strike a varicose vein. The elderly woman then bled to death.
According to WebMD, varicose veins afflict as much as 60 percent of all Americans. The condition occurs when a vein near the surface of the skin becomes bulged and malformed, causing blood to pool in them. In almost all cases, the problems caused by the veins are merely cosmetic. However, some patients may experience some minor annoyances related to the problem, such as itchy skin or swollen ankles.
So rare are fatalities associated with varicose veins and so rare are domestic fowl attacks on humans fatal, this particular case made the scientific journals. In this case, an analysis of the event was discussed in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology.
“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.”
In this particular case, the patient had some other medical issues that may have played a role in her death as well. Specifically, the report’s authors note that in addition to her varicose veins, she had been treated for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
Fatal bird attacks on humans are exceptionally rare, owing in many ways to the fact that humans are larger than even the largest birds. And indeed, those birds that are large enough to attack humans will almost always prefer to run away. One extremely rare exception, however, is that of the cassowary: the large bird with razor-sharp claws will attack humans if cornered or provoked. As CBS News reported at the time, in April, a Florida man was killed by a cassowary.
Meanwhile, when it comes to domestic livestock and fatal attacks on humans, birds rarely make the list. In fact, according to Popular Science, cows and horses account for the majority of livestock attacks on humans.
None of this is to suggest, however, that domesticated fowl can’t kill you in other ways besides a direct attack. According to a companion Fox News report, a salmonella outbreak has sickened people in 49 states. Salmonella, which is often found in poultry eggs, is rarely fatal, but it can be deadly in small children, the elderly, and in people with weakened immune systems.