The vampire syndrome is a rare genetic disorder of the blood which usually affects the skin and the nervous system. In medical terms, it is known as porphyria . The condition is termed as 'vampire' because of its symptoms which is similar to the mythological vampire of the 18th century.
Porphyria was discovered a long time ago, much before the invention of antibiotics, sanitation and refrigeration. In those days, people with this condition were considered a 'vampire' due to their vampire-like symptoms which involve fangs, dark circles around the eyes, reddish urine and insensitivity to sunlight. However, the condition was later studied by medical experts and its treatments were invented .Scientific Theories Behind Porphyria
According to Desiree Lyon Howe, the founder of the American Porphyria Foundation and the sufferer of acute intermittent porphyria, this rare disease was prevalent among the remote communities in Europe during the middle age period when people used to live far away from the contact of the modern world .
Roger Luckhurst, a professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature (London) and the editor of the book 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker mentioned several factors and incidents responsible for porphyria in the 1730s. He mentioned that during the medieval age, a catastrophe struck the remote areas of Europe and caused hunger, plague and many severe diseases like catalepsy (rigidity of the body and loss of sensation) .
Due to the lack of contact with the outside world and insufficiency of medicines, people with porphyria got mentally disabled due to fear, depression and other factors and started eating themselves out of extreme hunger. Also, due to the unawareness of modern vaccination and drugs, diseases caused due to animals bite like rabies got spread in large amount during the time which caused them an aversion to water and light, hallucination and aggression.
Another cause, as mentioned by Professor Roger Luckhurst, indicates that as these European communities remained in isolation for so long, it caused malnutrition due to poor diet and more susceptible to multiple diseases due to which their genes might have mutated for worse causing the vampire-like symptoms.
As time passed by and marriages took place, the abnormalities in gene passed from parents to children and caused the spread of the condition.Cause Of Porphyria
In humans, oxygen from the lungs is transferred to other body parts through a special protein in the red blood cells called haemoglobin which is also responsible for the red colour of the blood. Haemoglobin contains a prosthetic group called heme which comprises of porphyrin and an iron-ion at the centre. It is usually made in red blood cells, bone marrow and liver.
Heme is made in eight sequential steps each by a separate enzyme produced by porphyrin. If any of these eight steps fails during the building of heme due to genetic mutation or environmental toxin, the synthesis of the enzymes get disturbed causing its deficiency and leading to porphyria. There are around many different types of porphyria and the condition is linked to the type of enzyme which is absent .Types Of Porphyria
There are 4 types of porphyria in which two are characterised by its symptoms and the latter two are divided by pathophysiology.1. Symptom-based porphyria
Symptoms of porphyria according to its types are as follows.Acute porphyria
When porphyria is acquired, it is mainly due to environmental toxins that trigger the symptoms of vampirism. They are as follows:
The complications of porphyria are as follows:
Porphyria is sometimes hard to detect as its symptoms are similar to Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, the diagnosis is carried out by the following tests:
The treatment of porphyria is based on its types. They are as follows:
If you get an infection, treat it as soon as possible.