I know there are some animals that you can safely drink from. Bear Grylls once drank the blood of an Elk, for example.

In a story I'm writing, I'm including a birthday ritual where the sons and daughters of an Empress must chase a pig and the person who catches it decides its fate, one of the girls decides to slit its throat and in the heat of the moment she swallows a mouthful of its blood.

How high is the risk of disease or sickness if someone does this, even if it's only once?


closed as off-topic by Mołot, Cyn, Alex2006, JBH, elemtilas Feb 17 at 23:44

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – Mołot, Alex2006, JBH
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Feb 17 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Please don't accept an answer right away. Also, please take a moment to review the help center and take the tour --- these will help you understand what WB.SE is about, what kinds of questions are acceptable and how good questions are written. That said, I think you need to clarify what you mean by "without getting sick". In other words, do you mean sick with some blood borne pathogen, or sick with whatever is on an unclean knife blade or on the pig's skin where the poor thing is stabbed? Or, do you mean sick as is barfing because you've drunk such a large volume? VTC. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Feb 17 at 23:43

"How high is the risk of disease or sickness if someone swallows a mouthful of blood?"

If the pig was healthy, then there is no risk; that is, it would be more complicated to explain why they became sick. It would be no more dangerous to drink a mouthful of blood than to eat some ham made from the pig.

Blood itself is not dangerous at all. Even highly civilized people do eat fresh raw meat, for example, steak tartare, and fresh raw meat contains blood; and people in general do consume fresh raw blood, for example, the Inuit drink seal blood and the Massai drink cow blood. See hematophagy and blood as food on Wikipedia.

But don't exaggerate it. One or two mouthfulls is fine, but blood has a lot of salt and a lot of iron, both of which being rather unhealthy if taken in large amounts all at once.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. $\endgroup$ – TheWolfEmperor Feb 17 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ Nowadays pigs and cattle that are slaughtered are tested against diseases; sushi fish is frozen to kill parasites. I do not think that this answer would be valid if we were talking about a medieval setting. Take into account that pigs are more prone to share diseases with humans than seals. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Feb 17 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76: OK, I'm editing the answer to say it's not more dangerous than eating ham made of the pig. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 17 at 22:20

Not trying to toot my own horn here, but you should be aware that it's usually a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer. You never know when a better answer may come along. So.

It's entirely possible, and depending on the swine involved, perhaps even likely.

While there aren't many diseases shared by humans and pigs (although swine flu comes to mind, and that is not passed by ingestion), the issue of parasites is a much bigger threat. Pork tapeworms are notorious for spreading to humans via ingestion, and the same oncospheres which reside in muscle also are found in the bloodstream.

So, using the common sense of "getting sick", there may well be a considerable risk of getting sick from drinking pig blood.

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    $\begingroup$ This is misleading. It's not more dangerous to drink a mouthful of blood from the pig than to eat sausages or ham made from the pig. True, people can get sick from eating pig products. In a medieval setting, people could get sick from drinking water, eating eggs or bread, being bitten by bedbugs etc.; the spirit of the question is not "can bad things happen", but rather "is it more dangerous than any other normal stuff they did". $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 17 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP - It's more dangerous because, by definition, raw pig blood has not been heated to the point that eggs and oncocytes have been destroyed. Generally, ham and sausage have been treated. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Feb 17 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ "Ham is pork from a leg cut that has been preserved by wet or dry curing, with or without smoking." (Wikipedia) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Feb 17 at 22:56

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