Fangs, sun­light and gar­lic

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The clas­sic vam­pires of leg­end have prominent fangs to pierce their vic­tims’ necks, are noc­tur­nal and have pale skin due to their aver­sion to sun­light. They can also be warded off with gar­lic. Thanks to med­i­cal ad­vances, these days we know of sev­eral con­di­tions that could ac­tu­ally ex­plain some of these fea­tures. Por­phyria is a group of con­di­tions that may have con­trib­uted to the vam­pire myth. One type, called con­gen­i­tal ery­thro­poi­etic por­phyria (CEP), causes a toxic build-up of light-ac­ti­vated mol­e­cules in the skin. When suf­fer­ers are ex­posed to sun­light these tox­ins can eat away at the skin, dam­ag­ing the gum tis­sue to make teeth look longer and fang-like. As well as Sun sen­si­tiv­ity, por­phyria can also make peo­ple hy­per­sen­si­tive to foods high in sul­phur, such as gar­lic. Sim­i­lar symp­toms can be ex­pe­ri­enced by those suf­fer­ing from ra­bies, a deadly virus that can be trans­mit­ted to hu­mans if bit­ten by an in­fected an­i­mal. Rabid peo­ple can de­velop in­som­nia, be­come ag­gres­sive – even try­ing to bite peo­ple – and demon­strate an aver­sion to strong stim­uli, in­clud­ing bright light and strong smells like gar­lic. The di­ag­no­sis of ra­bies also fits the com­mon de­pic­tion of male vam­pires pur­su­ing fe­male vic­tims. The con­di­tion is seven times more com­mon in men and can cause an in­creased li­bido by af­fect­ing the body’s lim­bic sys­tem.

The ra­bies virus is trans­mit­ted to hu­mans via an­i­mal bites, of­ten from in­fected dogs

Por­phyria makes sun­light painful and can even cause blis­ter­ing

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