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Death Secondary to a Donkey's Bites

d'Aloja, Ernesto MD, PhD*; Grimaldi, Leonardo MD, PhD; Cascini, Fidelia MD, PhD; De Mercurio, Domenico MD; De-Giorgio, Fabio MD, PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2011 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 183-185
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318219cfce
Case Reports

We present a unique case of death due to the assault and bites of a donkey on a 65-year-old man. The farmer, found dead in his farmyard, had a very deep wound in the anterior region of the neck, with a sharp transection of the trachea and severe bleeding by several minor vessels wall disruptions. The cause of death was established to be massive bleeding combined with asphyxia due to aspiration of the blood. Moreover, multiple contusions with associated skin abrasions and perforations were present. The general impression of the injuries was consistent with an animal's bite marks. Herbivorous or omnivorous bite attacks on humans are rare; instead, these animals attack by kicking, trampling, and kneeling, resulting in secondary blunt injuries. The donkey is usually a docile animal, but its behavior can be aggressive during the mating season, and the possibility of biting should not be underestimated, as illustrated by the 2 cases published previously as well as by the case presented here.

From the *Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Cagliari, School of Medicine, Cagliari; and †Institute of Legal Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, School of Medicine, Rome, Italy.

Manuscript received October 27, 2008; accepted May 27, 2009.

Reprints: Fabio De-Giorgio, MD, PhD, Institute of Legal Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, School of Medicine, Largo Francesco Vito, 1, 00168 Rome, Italy. E-mail:;

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.