Rooster pecked Australian woman to death, medical journal reports

"This case demonstrates that even relatively small domestic animals may be able to inflict lethal injuries," pathologists involved in the research said.

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By David K. Li

An elderly Australian woman collecting eggs on her farm was fatally pecked by a rooster who targeted the victim's varicose veins, researchers said.

The findings, published in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology, were meant to show how even the smallest, most unthreatening animals can still inflict deadly wounds, according to University of Adelaide pathology professor Roger Byard and pathologist Judith Fronczek, with the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

The incident happened "recently" in southern Australia, according to Byard who declined to reveal any more details about the victim to protect her family's privacy.

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"The bird pecked her lower left leg causing significant hemorrhage with collapse and death," the researchers wrote. "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 76-year-old woman had various health issues such as diabetes, hypertension and varicose veins before the rooster attack, contributing to her death.

"The case is significant as it draws attention to the vulnerability of elderly folk with varicose veins to minor trauma, even from a rooster peck," Byard told NBC News on Wednesday night. "Lethal rooster attacks are very rare, but small animals can cause death from trauma."

Still, it might have taken just two big pecks by the attacking rooster to cause the woman to bleed to death. She died before an ambulance reached her, Byard said.

"At autopsy the major findings were limited to the lower left leg which was covered with adherent dried blood," the paper said.

"Two small bleeding lacerations were present, one of which was located immediately over a perforated large varix. Death was therefore due to exsanguination from bleeding varicose veins following an attack by a rooster."

The bottom line is, beware of any animals.

"Treat all animals, even small ones with respect," Byard said. "If you have varicose veins have them treated. If you have them untreated be very careful of minor injuries."