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Vampiric Diseases: Porphyria

Originally believed to be a blood/liver disease, porphyria is an inherited disease. Porphyria as a disease has many branches and types, the specific type that is related to vampirism is the rarest form, congenital erythropoietic porphyria. This disease can cause severe disfigurement, and has only been diagnosed offically 200 times. The victims of this form of porphyria have an extreme sensitively to light, and often avoid daylight all together.

Now to debunk many of the misconceptions about porphyria's relation to vampirism. Firstly this theory was originally created by biochemist David Dolphin in 1985, and his original theory was full of many incorrect and misconceived statements. A few of those remarks are:

  1. Porphyria victims are extraordinarily sensitive to sunlight. Even mild exposure can cause severe disfigurement. Facial skin may scar, the nose and fingers may fall off, and the lips and gums may become so taut that the teeth project like fangs.
  2. To avoid sunlight, people with serious cases of porphyria go out only at night, just like Dracula.
  3. Today porphyria can be treated with injections of blood products. Centuries ago, porphyria victims might have sought to treat themselves by drinking blood.
  4. Porphyria is inherited, but the symptoms may not manifest themselves until brought on by stress. Suppose a sibling with an active case of the disease bites you to quench his thirst for blood. Très stressful, non? Suddenly your own latent porphyria goes critical and you start growing fangs too.
  5. Garlic contains a chemical that worsens porphyria symptoms, causing sufferers to avoid it. Just like vampires.
Many of these comments are completely false, vampires that were exhumed in the 1800's showed no cases of the severe disfigurement sufferers of congenital erythropoietic porphyria would have had. I will also note that vampires universally hating sunlight is a myth that was created by fiction writers, and is not part of the original myths.

Porphyria victims also do not crave blood, nor would ingest blood give them any relief to their illness, they receive special injections of blood and blood enzymes to help with their disease, so the idea that a porphyria victim would go seeking the blood of another person for relief is ridiculous.

And no one has proved that garlic has any effect on people who suffer from any form of porphyria. Also I'm sure many of you don't know that porphyria was also blamed for werewolves at one time.

Quotes from David Dolphin taken from an article originally published by the Times

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