(from Hippocrates, March 1999)
Dr. Juan Gomez-Alonso, a Spanish neurologist, happened to be watching the film “Dracula” when he had a sudden flash of insight: could the source of vampire legends be rooted in the classic signs of rabies infection?
Consider what happens to a patient infected with rabies. Aggressiveness and hypersexuality are common. Twenty-five percent are prone to biting others. Because they’re hypersensitive to all stimuli, rabies victims often avoid light, mirrors, and strong odors such as garlic or onions. Spasms of the facial muscles produce bared teeth, and they’ll often froth at the mouth. Insomnia and night wandering are common.
Dr. Gomez-Alonso also notes that during the years 1721-28, a major rabies epidemic among dogs and wolves broke out in Hungary — precisely the time and place when the first vampire legends began.