In 1616, Italian scientist Ludovico Fatinelli
published his Treatise on Vampires
, in which he speculated that vampirism was caused by a microscopic pathogen, as opposed to demonic possession and other such myths. Tragically, he was burned at the stake for heresy, but his research lived on to inspire countless dedicated men and women to bring you the information included on this page.
the bat flea
The source of vampirism is the human vampirism virus (HVV)
. Like rabies, HVV has a distinct bullet shape and belongs to the order Mononegavirales
—viruses with a nonsegmented, negative-stranded RNA genome. The virus' natural host is a flea commonly found on cave-dwelling bats—most notably the vampire bat. In the most common scenario, the flea bites a bat, which in-turn passes the virus on to humans and other mammals.
Unlike many other viruses, HVV is not airborne.
While most viruses are highly specific in what tissues they target, HVV is able to infect every living cell in the body, with the exception of red blood cells (which are replaced over time by the infected bone marrow). It's also much less destructive, as it can effectively transform tissues without destroying them.
While in theory HVV infection is possible through any exchange of bodily fluids, transmission occurs through the bite of an infected person or animal in virtually every case.
Stages of the Disease
Stage One: Infection.
Electron micrograph of HVV (left).|
The virus budding off an infected cell (right).
Within six to twelve hours of exposure, the victim develops a headache, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms, as well as a drastic increase in metabolism and heart rate as the virus spreads throughout the body. These symptoms can be easily confused with more common infections, although the presence of bite marks is usually enough to confirm the diagnosis. This stage generally lasts another six to twelve hours, during which the vaccine is 99 percent effective. The victim should also be treated with fluids and antibiotics.
Stage Two: Coma.
In 1800 France, an infected woman is given|
a transfusion of goat's blood—
a desperate, futile measure to ward off the disease.
Within 24 hours of exposure, the victim will slip into a vampiric coma. About 12 hours into this phase, the pulse slows, breathing is shallow and the pupils are dilated. Thousands have been buried alive because of this. While it is commonly thought that anyone infected with HVV turns into a vampire, in fact only a small percentage of people survive vampiric comas. Generally, the young, old and feeble never come out of their comas and eventually die, while the vast majority of survivors are males between the ages of 18 to 35. Vampiric comas last about a day, and usually end the night after their onset. The vaccine is roughly 50 percent effective when administered during Stage Two of the infection: the longer the victim has been in the coma, the less effective the vaccine.
Stage Three: Transformation.
During vampire epidemics,|
many victims were buried while
still in a vampiric coma.
An HVV victim who survives the coma will awaken fully transformed into a vampire. An acclimation period follows, characterized by confusion, despondency and paranoia, accompanied by the pain of dehydration and malnutrition. Most vampires begin to hunt within 24 hours of transformation. The vaccine is of no use at this point, as all virus activity has gone dormant.
Continue to Vampiric Biology
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