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newmod
09-10-2006, 06:30 PM
Hi all, I have a strange question about leeches and wondered if anyone might be able to help.

Is it possible for leeches (a lot of them, not just 1 or 2 :)) to kill a person? I would have thought logically yes, through blood loss, but Im no natural scientist. Also any idea how many and how long it would take? Im writing a story and want to get rid of a character by "leeching" him to death.

Ive had a scout around on the web but found nothing about it - yet.

All help most appreciated.

Cheers,
newmod

Unique
09-10-2006, 08:17 PM
I found this (http://tinyurl.com/p2m82)

and this (http://tinyurl.com/qdezk).

One site said leeches don't carry diseases (technically true) but the other said bacteria harbored in their gut for digestion could be passed on to a human host. (ick)

A person in a weakened condition or delirious may fall down and pass out and get sucked to death. (ew,ew,ew)

Are you going to post a bit in SYW? The story sounds ... interesting.

You've got the gross factor down. I thought I'd staggered into the horror thread.

awatkins
09-11-2006, 05:17 AM
Eww. Thanks for the comments, Unique. :D

Newmod, that sounds like a cooool story idea!

newmod
09-11-2006, 05:26 AM
Hi guys, its actually not a horror story and I probably will post it. Im putting together a story about pirates, as a revenge killing one character gets leeched.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

Ive had one of my rare logic attacks and Im going to try calculating how many leeches and how long it would take to finish someone off by finding out the capacity of a leech.

Failing that I could make the character eat them and die that way. Almost Shakespearian that!!! If I do Ill give you a credit (assuming it ever gets published!!!) Unique.

Thanks again guys.

Take care

newmod
09-11-2006, 05:29 AM
After a few quick (and probably inaccurate) calculatitons I think 500 leeches would take about 12 hours to kill a person. Not realistic in the scope of the story, but why let reality get in the way, hehe

awatkins
09-11-2006, 05:38 AM
That is just an awesome idea; I love it! Pop in here and let me know if you post it in SYW. I've got to read that. :)

oarsman
09-11-2006, 05:52 AM
The leeches might cause suffocation if they get into the air passages and then enlarge as they feed on blood. I read it here (http://www.accessexcellence.org/LC/SS/leechlove.html)in the second paragraph about soldiers in Napolean's army.

Unique
09-11-2006, 06:17 AM
I don't know where your story takes place but check out this site. (http://tinyurl.com/oo94a)
Scroll down til you see the picture. I don't think it would take 500.
Fifteen would probably do it.

I'd always heard the leeches in Vietnam were nasty. Those guys are really nasty. Not a bit like the ones in our pond. (and I am truly grateful) ew.

jdkiggins
09-11-2006, 06:31 AM
Okay, I'm ready to read. Sounds interesting and creepy.

newmod
09-11-2006, 07:02 AM
Hi Unique unfortunately my story takes place in mid 17th century England, so not much chance of having Vietnamese leeches (damn!). I found something saying that a species found in Scotland suck between 5-10ml in 12 hours. I think if a person loses 5 pints of blood they will die so I guess 10 or 12 hours should do it. I just won´t specify how many leeches are obtained :)

Due to all the interest I will definitely post it for your delectation at a future date.

All the best to everyone

Fern
09-11-2006, 06:00 PM
Better keep your leeches away from salt. It will dissolve them.

Didn't physicians (way way back when) use leeches to "bleed" people, causing death many times because it so weakened the patient? Probably would have been doing this during the time frame you mentioned.

TheIT
09-11-2006, 10:03 PM
There's a series on one of the history channels about the worst jobs in history in which they have the host demonstrate the jobs. One of the jobs was catching leeches. If I remember correctly, the girls in Scottish villages would kilt up their skirts and walk through the streams and let the leeches attach to their legs in order to catch them. They also discussed using leeches for bleeding patients.

I think leeches have some sort of anti-coagulant in their "bite". Too many leech bites might cause a person to bleed to death because the bites don't scab over. I'm not a doctor, so please verify before you use this information.

Nakhlasmoke
09-11-2006, 10:37 PM
Didn't physicians (way way back when) use leeches to "bleed" people, causing death many times because it so weakened the patient?.

Interestingly enough, and I guess rather OT (sorry), when my mom was working as a nurse she took me in to the hospital to show me how they still use leeches. In this case a man's thumb had been reattached, and the doctors had placed the leeches (they looked like shrivelled cucumbers) on the thumb to encourage blood flow.

Alex Bravo
09-23-2006, 06:28 AM
Poetic license. If you need large leeches use them. Just because they don't have them now doesn't mean they didn't exist. Remember Jurassic Park? Velociraptors were supposed to be rather small, smaller than humans, but Steven Spielberg wanted them to be more menacing and made them larger. I think many people didn't want him to do that because he wasn't being true to nature. But soon after, scientists discovered the Utah Raptor, a velociraptor just as big as those in the movies...

One of my favorite books is the YA Holes... In that, he created a lizard that wasn't real, but it sure made the book more fun!