76-year-old woman pecked to death by own rooster while gathering eggs

A 76-year-old Australian woman was pecked to death by her own rooster, USA Today reports, citing a report in the Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology journal. 

The unidentified woman was gathering eggs on her rural property in South Australia, when the fowl repeatedly struck at her leg, puncturing a varicose vein and causing her to bleed heavily. The woman had reportedly suffered from hypertension and type II diabetes, in addition to varicose veins. 

"Even relatively small domestic animals may be able to inflict lethal injuries in individuals if there are specific vascular vulnerabilities present," the report said. 

Speaking to USA Today, University of Adelaide professor Roger Byard, who wrote the report with Judith Fronczek, said the incident showed "how vulnerable the elderly are."

"It draws attention to the vulnerability of elderly folk with varicose veins to minor trauma, even from a rooster peck," Byard said. "Lethal rooster attacks are very rare, but small animals can cause death from trauma."

The unusual episode is also proof that animals most people consider harmless can be dangerous, Byard told The Advertiser in a separate interview. 

"For example cats are a very common tripping hazard for the elderly around the house that they may never think of," he said. "Cats like to rub against ankles and legs, as well as sit behind people and commonly lead to tripping injuries in the elderly."

Should anyone come across an aggressive hen or rooster that is about to attack, they should grab the chicken by the leg and cradle it under their arm to establish dominance, Dr. Dianna Bourassa, an assistant professor of poultry sciences at Auburn University, told USA Today. 

The 76-year-old's death is not the first chicken-related one to occur. In 2011, a 35-year-old California man attending an illegal cockfight died after he was stabbed in the leg by a cock that had a knife attached to it, according to the BBC

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