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Pregnant Paws

Welsh Corgi puppies (Source: pixabay)

Thousands of people in rural areas of the states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, etc. are vulnerable to Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome, a belief that if you are bitten by an aroused dog, not only will you contract rabies, you will also become pregnant with the dog's puppies. They believe that the saliva of dogs contains dog gametes which lead to the victim being impregnated when bitten. The victims, who are usually superstitious villagers, feel puppies moving around restlessly within them and apparently see images of puppies when looking at water. They are also said to run around restlessly yelling like a mad dog. Rather than going to a regular hospital, the victims consult a specialist in the field, a bara ojha. The witch doctor performs rituals and offers herbal remedies to induce abortions in his "patient". The treatment concludes with the dissolved foetuses eventually being discharged via the genitals.

The pregnancies feel very real to those affected by this mass-delusional belief. Some women even claim to hear the barks of little puppies in their abdomen. Not treating the pregnancy is said to lead to death. The disorder also affects men who, if untreated, succumb during the excruciatingly painful delivery of the puppies via their penises. Unexplained deaths are often attributed to a toxic puppy pregnancy. Puppy pregnancy syndrome has been deemed a culture-bound disorder local to certain communities.