lycanthropy (and vampirism and zombification) essentially has to do with mankind's fear of disease, specifically, rabies:
Prodromal phase: first symptoms of rabies
The early symptoms of rabies tend to be subtle, last 2 to 3 days, and include the following:
Change in tone of the dog's bark
Chewing at the bite site
Loss of appetite
Subtle changes in behavior
Furious phase: "mad dog syndrome"
The second phase of infection usually lasts 2 to 4 days and not all rabid animals experience it. Animals that enter immediately into the final paralytic phase are sometimes said to have dumb or paralytic rabies. Animals that spend most of their diseased state in the furious phase are sometimes said to have furious rabies. An infected dog may viciously attack any moving object, person, or animal; a caged rabid dog will chew the wire, break their teeth, and try to bite a hand moving in front of the cage. Rabid cats will attack suddenly, biting and scratching. Foxes will invade yards and attack dogs, cows, and porcupines.
They may show the following signs:
Craving to eat anything, including inedible objects
Constant growling and barking
Episodes of aggression
Facial expression showing anxiety and hyperalertness
No fear of natural enemies (e.g., wild animals may not be afraid of people)
Trembling and muscle incoordination
The third and final phase of infection usually lasts for 2 to 4 days. Initial symptoms include the following:
Appearance of choking
Dropping of the lower jaw (in dogs)
Inability to swallow, leading to drooling and foaming of saliva (i.e., "foaming at the mouth")
Paralysis of jaw, throat, and chewing muscles
Paralysis then spreads to other parts of the body, the animal becomes depressed, rapidly enters a coma and dies.
additionally, rabies leads to hypersensitivity and irritability... to things like light (thus the shunning of the day, and the moving about at night) and strong odors (thus garlic)
Not only do people with rabies have symptoms strikingly similar to the traits ascribed to vampires, but the vampire legend also originated in eastern Europe in the 18th century -- the site of a major rabies outbreak in the 1720s, according to the study.
Rabies, a virus usually transmitted via the bite of an infected animal, can be tricky to diagnose, the study's author, Dr. Juan Gomez-Alonso told Reuters Health in an interview. Symptoms usually do not appear for at least a couple of weeks, and by then the bite has healed. Once symptoms have appeared, antirabies treatment is ineffective, and the infection is most often fatal.
"Even now we miss diagnoses in cases of rabies," Gomez-Alonso said. Citing an example in his study, Gomez-Alonso describes a relatively recent case in which a man presumed to be a "wandering lunatic" was found to be infected with rabies during an autopsy. "These missed diagnoses probably happened much more commonly in the 18th century," Gomez-Alonso added.
A neurologist at Hospital Xeral in Vigo, Spain, Gomez-Alonso decided to investigate the rabies-vampirism connection after watching a vampire movie in 1981.
"I had never seen a vampire movie before and I was struck by the similarities," he explained.
There are many, Gomez-Alonso reports in the study. For starters, not only people, but dogs, wolves, and bats -- animals traditionally associated with vampires -- can be infected with the rabies virus. Because the virus affects the limbic system, part of the brain that influences aggressive and sexual behavior, people with rabies tend to be aggressive, may attempt to bite others, and are "hypersexual," he writes. Since rabies also affects the hypothalamus, part of the brain that controls sleep, many patients suffer from insomnia, and are up and about in the middle of the night.
Rabies causes hypersensitivity to strong stimuli, as well, so patients are often repelled by light, by bright things -- such as mirrors, and by strong odors -- including the smell of garlic. Rabies victims may vomit blood, Gomez-Alonso explains. And since the disease causes hydrophobia, or aversion to water, they do not swallow their saliva, which can froth at their mouths, flecked with blood.
The disease can also cause facial spasms, in which the lips jerk back over the teeth, in an animal-like snarl. Moreover, rabies is more common among men than women, as is vampirism, at least according to most vampire tales. Finally, rabies, like vampirism, can be transmitted via a bite, Gomez-Alonso writes. The infection, however, can also be transmitted via a scratch or across mucus membranes. Consequently, it can be contracted during sex with an infected partner, or by inhaling air in caves heavily populated by infected bats.
In addition to the medical evidence, Gomez-Alonso provides historical support for his theory. Digging through centuries-old European archives, he found records of a rabies epidemic among dogs, wolves and other animals in Hungary between 1721 and 1728, the time people first began to report sightings of "vampires." There were reports, for instance, of people "who have been dead for several years, or at least several months seen to return, to talk, to walk, to infest the villages to suck the blood of their close ones, making them become ill and eventually die."
Gomez-Alonso also found accounts of bodies, exhumed after burial, that appeared lifelike, and were filled with still-liquid blood. This also fits in with the rabies theory, he writes. When people die of collapse, shock or asphyxiation -- as is often the case with rabies -- their blood is often slow to clot. Moreover, the region of Hungary where the outbreak occurred is damp and cold many months of the year, significant because corpses take longer to decompose in the cold. "Their good appearance would also suggest the presence of saponification," he explains. "This process, characteristic of burials in humid places, transforms the subcutaneous tissues into a wax-like substance."
don't ask me about silver or holy water, but the greeks called rabies hydrophobia, literally, fear of water... why? the spasms and sensitivity of the throat in rabies means the poor victims of rabies can't even drink water ;-(
Hydrophobia is the fear of water, or of swimming. Usually mild cases involving fears of deep water, and not associated with general fear of the substance water.
Rabies was often referred to as Hydrophobia, because animals in the later stages of that disease have difficulty swallowing, and suffer from their inability to quench their thirst.
can you imagine what a human with rabies was like? (shudder)
before modern medicine, when rabies could spread unopposed through animal and human populations, without an understanding of what rabies was biologically, lycanthropy is a perfectly acceptable explanation of rabies
that's all lycanthropy is, that's all vampirism is: rabies, plain and simple
so all you goths out there? you want to be a REAL lycanthrope or zombie or vampire? go get bitten by rabid raccoon... but dudes, there really is no worse way to shuffle off this mortal coil than there is through rabies... what a nasty, nasty disease, my heart goes out to the poor real-life victims of rabies ;-(
you don't have to marvel at the wonder of lycanthropy or vampirism in legend, for fact is stranger than fiction, especially with rabies:
This is primarily a viral infection of non-human carnivores. Transmission to man is rare and is usually effected through a bite. Clinical evidence of involvement of the CNS appears after an extremely variable period of incubation. A deep-seated fear of rabies is almost instinctual despite the actual rarity of the infection in man, perhaps reflecting a primordial knowledge of the virtual certainty of death once disease is overt.
The rabies virus is usually transmitted to man by a bite that implants saliva containing an infective dose of virus in muscle and near nerve tissue. The virus may undergo a limited amount of reproduction in the muscle cells at the site of inoculation. The virus travels along the nerves from the point of inoculation to the CNS. The dense concentration of sensory nerve endings in the head, face, neck and fingers accounts for the higher fatality rate observed when these areas are exposed. Similarly, the more extensive or severe the bite wounds, the higher the mortality, because more nerve tissue is exposed to an infective dose of rabies virus. After entering the CNS, the virus replicates in the neurons of the gray matter before traveling centrifugally along nerves from the CNS to invade a variety of organs and tissues. Humans and animals dying of rabies commonly exhibit characteristic cytoplasmic inclusion bodies in neurons of the brain; these are called Negri bodies. The presence of Negri bodies is pathognomonic of rabies infection, but their absence does not preclude the disease. In humans who have died from rabies, Negri bodies are prominent in ganglion cells, particularly in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Other changes also present in the CNS include edema, hemorrhage, congestion, and perivascular cuffing in all parts, but most severe in the pons and medulla. In the cranial, spinal, and sympathetic ganglia, there are actual foci of necrosis with neuronophagia and infiltration with lymphocytes. The severity of the histopathologic changes in the spinal cord often corresponds to the site of bite - for example, the lumbar cord is most extensively affected when the bite is on the foot. Gross changes are inconspicuous.
Where there is a history of bite by a known rabid animal and the bitten person shows typical symptoms, the clinical diagnosis of rabies is usually evident. In many instances, a history of exposure is lacking, and the diagnosis of rabies may be missed unless revealed by postmortem laboratory tests.
The manifestations of rabies begins in man anywhere from 10-240 days after exposure. However, the incubation period is usually 30-90 days. The length of this incubation period is a function of:
1. The number of sensory nerves ending in the bitten area
2. The dose of virus
3. The severity of the bite wounds
4. The distance from the bite wound to the CNS
There are three clinical phases of the disease:
1. Prodromal phase - the onset of clinical rabies in man includes 2-4 days of prodromal
manifestations, most of which are non-specific. A low fever, malaise, headache, anorexia,
nausea and sore throat are common. There may also be increasing nervousness, anxiety,
irritability and depression and melancholia, with or without a sense of impending death.
Hyperesthesia, an increased sensitivity to bright light and loud noise, excessive salivation,
lacrimation and perspiration have been noted. The general muscle tone may be increased,
and facial expression can be overactive. Dilated pupils, an increased pulse rate and shallow
respirations are seen. However, by far, the most significant symptoms are abnormal
sensations referred to the site of inoculation; noted by 80% of patients, these include pain
(local or radiating), a sensation of cold, pruritus (itching) and tingling.
2. Excitation phase - the excitation phase begins gradually and may persist to death. It may be
punctuated at any time by depression and paralysis. There usually are increasing anxiety,
apprehension and a sense of impending doom. Although the tone of the somatic musculature
is increased, there may be weakness of the muscle groups around the location of the bite.
Cranial nerve malfunctions result in ocular palsies with:
a. Strabismus - failure of the eyes to follow one another in any movement. This is due to
incoordination of the extra-ocular muscles.
b. Dilation or constriction of the pupils that may be asymmetric and associated with:
(1) Hippus (abnormal exaggeration of the rhythmic contraction and dilation of the
pupil, independent of changes in illumination or in fixation of the eyes).
(2) Nystagmus (continuous rolling of eyeball)
c. Absence of corneal reflexes
d. Weakness of facial muscles
f. Babinski and Chaddock signs
There may be tachycardia or bradycardia (slow heart beat), cyclic respiration, urinary
retention and constipation.
Hydrophobia, the classical diagnostic manifestation of rabies, is an affliction of the excitatory
phase of the disease. When the patient attempts to swallow liquids, forceful, painful
expulsion occurs as a consequence of spasmodic contraction of the muscles of swallowing
and respiration. Once experienced, the sight, sound or smell of liquids may provoke the
syndrome. The ensuing choking may cause severe apnea (temporary cessation of breathing)
and cyanosis. Death frequently occurs during the course of such a convulsive attack.
Dehydration is a common consequence.
3. Paralytic phase - hydrophobia, if present, disappears and swallowing becomes possible,
although difficult, as the paralytic phase sets in. A progressive, general, flaccid paralysis
develops. Apathy shades into stupor, progressing to coma. There is urinary incontinence.
Peripheral vascular collapse ensues and death follows.
Definitive diagnosis of rabies depends on laboratory procedures:
1. Isolation of the virus from saliva, CSF, urine, nerve tissue
2. Fluorescent rabies antibody (FRA) test on brain tissue
3. Presence of Negri bodies
Only 3 people have ever recovered from rabies. CNS sequelae are common.
The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.