For many centuries, death was a mystery, and dying a fearful force devoid of explanation. Some causes of death were deemed to be rooted in the supernatural or some sort of invading demonic force. Many who suffered from wasting diseases, anemia, tuberculosis, or cholera, for example, were misdiagnosed as the victims of vampiric attacks. After all, the symptoms fell in line with those superstitions: weight loss, coughing up blood, immense suffering. And then there were the epidemics of illness. Whole cities of people were wiped out in the bubonic plague. Outbreaks of cholera and flu decimated countries. Venereal diseases became widely feared and terrifyingly common across Europe and beyond. In the 1600s, as the plague claimed millions of lives, the cause was unknown, although we now know that the disease was carried by rats and fleas. The myth of the vampire, as a result, grew all the more foreboding. What else could claim so many lives in one fell swoop but an inhuman creature of immeasurable evil?
Content warning: Discussions of illness, death, and disease.
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- Dracula (2006) – BBC
- Daybreakers – Lionsgate
- Nosferatu the Vampyre
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