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Victims of vampire attacks in 19th-century novels didn't just turn pale, swoon and waste away; they displayed a wide range of symptoms that hinted at deadly attacks by a fanged, bloodsucking predator.
However, the descriptions of those symptoms were likely grounded in observations of real medical conditions. In fact, the hallmarks of a so-called vampire attack strongly resemble physical symptoms caused by cases of acute leukemia, according to a new study.
Time - Leukemia - Disease - Community - Array
At the time, leukemia had not yet been identified as a disease among the medical community. Perhaps this is why its particular array of symptoms, the cause of which was then unknown, inspired writers to assign a supernatural explanation, researchers recently reported.
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Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. It originates in bone marrow; the cancer cells quickly multiply and overwhelm the production and activity of normal white blood cells, leading to anemia and vulnerability to infections. In acute leukemia, the disease progresses very quickly if untreated, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Blood-chilling - Study - Researchers - Novels - Foundation
For their blood-chilling study, the researchers looked to three novels that formed the foundation of the popular vampire genre: "The Vampyre" by John William Polidori (1819), "Carmilla" by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (1879) and "Dracula" by Bram Stoker (1897). The scientists documented all characters that were identified as vampire victims, compiling a list of symptoms and the length of time those symptoms lasted. Then, the researchers compared the symptoms with those produced by a range of illnesses.
"The Vampyre" portrayed just two victims, describing no symptoms leading up to their deaths. "Carmilla" had three victims, all female; they displayed "persistent exhaustion, fever, pallor, dyspnoea [difficulty breathing] and chest pain,"...
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