An elderly South Australian woman has died after being attacked by her pet rooster while collecting eggs from a chicken coop in her own backyard. 

University of Adelaide Professor of Pathology, Roger Byard, recently told the ABC that the woman’s death was a direct result of the rooster pecking her lower left leg and puncturing a varicose vein, causing her to hemorrhage and collapse.  

Professor Byard said that one of the main problems that people with varicose veins face is the fact that they can bleed very quickly, noting that he had encountered a number of cases of people incurring significant blood loss from bumping into furniture at home.

Although the positive effect that animals can have on the emotional wellbeing of elderly people is well known, there is undoubtedly an element of risk that comes with having a live animal in the presence of someone who is extremely vulnerable. 

Animals can be unpredictable and pose a number of different risks ranging from a tripping hazard through to the potential of a fatal attack, and while a rooster is probably not the first thing that springs to mind in terms of a dangerous animal, this sad and bizarre case highlights just how fragile elderly people can be.

Professor Byard said that he had come across a number of strange cases involving animals over the years, including cases from overseas that involved roosters pecking small children in the head and actually causing brain damage due to thinness of the child’s skull.

“We all know about bees and spiders with allergies and poisons,” he said.

“There has been an array of strange cases reported from overseas of people drinking from water that has leeches in it and they’ve actually got leeches in their airway.

“[Also] fishermen mucking around putting fish in their mouths and they’ve actually inhaled the fish and died.

“We just have to respect animals, there is the potential that they can cause injury, particularly if you’re older and more vulnerable.”

Varicose veins are often seen as more of a cosmetic problem rather than a risk to physical health, but left untreated, they have the potential to cause real problems.

Varicose veins can cause swelling, which over time can result in skin changes like ulcers and infection. They also increase a persons risk of developing blood clots. 

Professor Byard highlighted the fact that people with varicose veins needed to understand that they be vulnerable, and he urged anyone with varicose veins to ‘get something done about it.’ 

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