XVIII. BITES AND STINGS, HOZKA
Dog bites, txakur-haginkada
The main worry regarding dog bites was the risk of getting rabies. This disease was a serious cause for concern in the past, as rabid animals were more common as there were no vaccinations against hydrophobia and when people who caught it would inevitably die as nothing could be done to avoid it.
Treating the wound
The first operation usually consisted and consists of cleansing the wound thoroughly.
In Apodaca (A), if the bite was deep, it would be made to bleed heavily. This remedy was frequently used in the case of a deep wound or puncture in the skin to disinfect it and avoid infection.
As regards the application of very hot liquids to disinfect the wound, in Amézaga de Zuya (A) they believed it to be essential to wash it with boiling water or very hot oil. Cerate is then applied to the wound after it has been cleaned. Hydrogen peroxide is now used as a disinfectant.
In Zerain (G), after the wound was cleaned with hot water, a poultice of pimpernel leaves and honey that was mixed hot was then applied. They also considered in that village that the best way to clean dog’s bites were to mix equal parts of oil and wine, which was heated and applied very hot, to burn the wound, at the highest temperature that the patient could bear without being burned. A poultice was then applied that was made out of the same quantities of oil and wine, three herbs – specifically white and red Anagallis arvensis and Glehoma hederacea, and a small amount of virgin wax. Everything was mixed together and applied on the wound. It had to be changed every day.
In Arraioz (N), garlic was heated in oil and when it was hot enough, it was applied on the wound. In Lekunberri (N), the area around the bite was also disinfected using oil fried with garlic.
Snake bites, sugeak pikatu
The bites caused by some of those reptiles were considered to be very poisonous, particularly a viper bite. Thus, the saying in Valle de Erro (N) goes: “If a viper bites you, you won’t live an hour”.
In Bedarona (B), if a viper bit someone and escaped, people would return the following day to where that had happened to kill the snake as it was said that the animal always returned to the same point.
In Carranza (B), they believe that snakes pican (sting) instead of biting and they do so with the réspere, the word used for its forked tongue.
Attacks by others animals
In Carranza (B), the toad is another of the animals thought to be poisonous, to point that some people stressed that a good part of the snakes’ venom comes from the toads that they were thought to live off. It is said if you touch a toad or any of the liquid splashes you when you kill it, blisters or wounds known as sapinas form on the skin and they are painful and difficult to cure.
In Orozko (B), they said that you should not get near to a road as they release a liquid from the type of verruca on their back that causes blisters when in contact with the human skin. Children believed that toads would urinate if they upset them and would direct it to the children’s eyes and they could be left blind. Therefore, they had to stone them from a distance.
In Astigarraga (G), before harvesting the hay, children were usually told that lizards, which frequently lived in the fields among the hay, would leap at people’s necks and not release them until the bells of seven churches toiled.
In Bermeo (B), five species of fish are known whose spines are considered to be poisonous. Those are the red scorpionfish (Scorpaena scrofa); greater weever (Trachinus draco); marbled electric ray (Torpedo marmorata); kabra gorria or blackbelly rosefish (Helicolenus dactylopterus) and the so-called pataria. If those fish were landed on the boat and anyone got the spines in their flesh, particularly in the case of the red scorpionfish, the pain was tremendous. Until ammonia was available, the injury would be treated by hitting with a stick the finger or place where the spine was lodged in order to get rid of the greatest possible amount of blood and consequently the venom and even the spine itself. The treatment was completed by drinking seawater to relieve the pain. When anyone got any type of spine, whether or not it was poisonous, in their flesh, the wound was made to bleed and they even something put the limb in question in water with bleach.
Insect bites/stings. Eztena sartu
Bees and wasps
Bees and wasps are the two insects that have most frequently stung people (Liginaga-Z). The bee leaves its sting in the skin and it has been standard practice to first remove it before applying remedies to relieve the pain and inflammation.
One common treatment reported was to rub the site of the bee sting with three different herbs.
Garlic, which is so used in folk remedies, has also been applied in the case of bee stings. In Elosua (G), the site was rubbed with a garlic clove to relieve the pain. In Abadiano, Amorebieta-Etxano, Gautegiz-Arteaga (B), Arrasate, Telleriarte (G), Arraioz and Eugi (N), rubbing garlic on them was also considered to be effective. In Beasain (G), some of the people surveyed that a garlic clove should be chopped up and then rubbed into the site. In Busturia (B), they applied garlic and vinegar. In Nabarniz (B), onion or garlic.
It was reported in some of the communities that a bee’s sting is considered a good thing even though it is painful, as it is considered to be good for the health, specifically for people suffering from rheumatic processes.
Mosquitoes, horseflies, lice and fleas
They remembered in Apodaca (A) being bitten mosquitos in summer, particularly at night. Some people consequently get welts and there are some who are stung more frequently and it is believed that is due to their having sweet blood or fine skin. They also think that is down to sweet blood in Durango (B).
Tobacco smoke is believed to be a good way of keeping the mosquitos at bay in Moreda (A). Rubbing your body with a vinegar lotion is also said to help avoid stings. They use thyme and rosemary vapours to help calm the sting. In Elgoibar (G), when mosquitos sting, they rub the area in ammoniac. In Nabarniz (B), they consider it is good to rub the site of the sting with lemon or garlic. In Bedarona (B), the sites were rubbed with vinegar or a half of potato.