Porphyria: The Vampire Disease That Started the Legend
The Vampire Disease, or porphyria in scientific term, is a set of genetic disorders characterized by the malfunction of the hemoglobin production. It is a rare disease that is said to originate from the intermarriages of the European nobility. The good news is, it is not contagious. Unfortunately, it is not curable.
While the term “porphyria” is relatively new, the disease itself has been in existence since the beginning of time. It is referred to, before, as a liver or a blood disease due to its symptoms. It was later called the “Vampire Disease” and was actually the start of the vampire legend.
People suffering from porphyria have symptoms manifested by mythological vampires. Their skin is sensitive to sunlight, their urine is reddish to purplish in color, the gums are shrunk making the teeth looking more prominent and canine-like and they have an averse reaction to garlic. Likewise, people suffering from porphyria will feel constant abdominal pains, will have increased hair growth, bouts of vomits and tightened skin.
The Vampire Disease is the reason why vampires can be considered real. They exist because the folks during the era of the Inquisition refer to patients with porphyria as “vampires”. However, they are far from what we now see on TV or the movies. They are not dangerous, in fact they are sick. The facts enumerated hereunder are the reasons that gave birth to the comtemporary vampires that we now know of.
1) Sensitive to sunlight – When a porphyria sufferer is exposed to the rays of the sun, his skin and face get disfigured and blackened. It also ruptures and swells and the resulting sores have thick hair growing from it.
2) Fangs – The fangs that vampires have are actually the appearance that a porphyria patient gets when his ears and nose start to be eaten away resulting to red lips that peel back from his receding gums. This results into the exposed fang-like teeth that are quite gruesome and frightening in appearance.
3) Drinking of blood – Since porphyria patients have purple-colored urine, it is widely believe then that this was because they drink blood. Aside from this however, there were really some instances when they did drink blood. However, it was animal blood that they used to drink as a means to relieve their anemia and pain.
4) Garlic to ward-off vampires – It may come as a surprise but even this has basis. Porphyria patients has aversion to garlic since the chemicals contained in it aggravates their symptoms. They can experience agonizing pain because of garlic.
5) No reflection in mirrors - It is believed that it must be very hard for any porphyria sufferer to see his appearance once he reached the later stage of the disease where he would have his nose, ears and lips eaten away and his canine-like teeth exposed in an ugly grin. Thus, it is but normal for him to avoid mirrors so as not to see his own deplorable reflection.
6) Aggressiveness – Those with acute porphyria are diagnosed to be irritable, uncooperative, violent and aggressive. They would swear and are basically disinhibited. This may be the reason they are taken to be dangerous.
It is ironical that those with porphyria, who were supposed to be getting medical help, were instead feared, abhorred and was burned at the stake during the Inquisition by no less than the church officials. About 600 of them were burned at the stake during this period. This is where the idea that vampires are repelled by crucifix originated. This is also the reason why porphyria victims, and so are “vampires”, are afraid of the church and anything that symbolizes it.
Today, porphyria has mutated to sets of disorders. It is not common but may be present in 1 out of 10,000. A battery of tests has to be done for it to be diagnosed. It is not curable but it may be contained through regular blood transfusion. It can also be controlled if the patient will have a healthy lifestyle.
With the knowledge about porphyria, people are made aware of the scientific basis of vampires. Most importantly, it will be known that the original concept about vampires is way too far from the truth. Instead of fearing them, people with Vampire Disease should instead be given love and taken cared of.