Probably one of the most popular characters recognized worldwide, Count Dracula. Science today proves that, the ancient vampires were related to some diseases.
The Count Dracula of the 18th century looks nothing like his present-day image
Over the years, popular culture has given him traits that he did not originally have. The current character is far from the fateful vampire of the imaginary created in Eastern Europe. The current one can be seen as the romantic character in the movie Twilight or as the protagonist of the video game Castlevania.
The truth that to qualify the vampire in its origins, we must go back to the classic myths. When people blamed the demon for all phenomena that had no explanation. Thus, the vampire was a demonic creature guilty of causing disease and death.
Considering that penicillin was only discovered in the 20th century, it is not hard to imagine. Viruses and bacteria were unknown. So contagious diseases were ravaging the population. At that time, people were prone, through religions, to blame demons for every evil on earth.
The birth of vampires and their relation to diseases
Thus vampires were born and the most famous was Count Dracula. Although the birth of such a myth has its roots in diseases. There were many that made the vampire myth so popular and feared in the beginning.
However there are two diseases that have symptoms that are close with vampires. Rabies is one of them and is one of the oldest known. It is transmitted by the bite of an animal to a human being. The reference is tangible, vampires bite their victims to drink their blood.
In addition victims of rabies suffer from hydrophobia, fear of water. It is a symptom caused by the contraction of the esophagus, which does not allow them to eat or drink. Being literally unable to swallow, the mouth fills with saliva that looks like foam at the mouth. Other symptoms of rabies that popularly resemble vampirism are fear of light and aggressiveness.
The second disease is pellagra, the cause of which is a diet deficient in niacin, Vitamin B3 and Tryptophan. It is generally caused by the ingestion of corn by-products and the consumption of alcohol. Pellagra has severe symptoms, dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, until it causes death.
Those who get pellagra have sensitivity to sunlight, another of the best known vampire myths. This sensitivity causes them to have ashen, corpse-like skin.
Vampires were an epidemic in the 18th century
Both pellagra and rabies were epidemic during the Great Vampire Epidemic. It happened in Eastern Europe between 1725 and 1755 and was the beginning of the creation of the myth. At that time, these sick people were called vampires. Undead” people who attacked other living people.
The hysteria unleashed led to a hunt for vampires. The belief that they could kill the vampire as he slept in his coffin by driving a wooden stake through his heart. This led to numerous graves being desecrated throughout Eastern Europe.
Disease, plus the political and religious turmoil of Eastern Europe, created a myth. The centuries, turned the myth into a true legend, that of the vampires we see today in movies and video games. Count Dracula is the most famous among them.