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The Science of Vampirism

Extended Edition: Part II

By Robert Lomax

Return to Part I


Origin & Evolution

Vampirism has plagued our ancestors for millions of years, as evidenced by the virus' complexity and compatibility with our species compared to other mammals. 25,000-year-old rock paintings, found at the Apollo 11 cave in the African country of Namibia, provide more concrete evidence to this theory. It's also believed that vampirism was a likely cause of the mass exodus from Africa 125,000 years ago. Despite this long history, the virus didn't seem to start spreading to other continents until around 5000 BC, which implies that some kind of containment measure was used.
Early human migration across the Red Sea
The actual evolution of the human vampirism virus is difficult to comprehend, since viruses are far too small and fragile to properly fossilize. However, judging by their similar structures, it's believed that HVV and rabies share a common ancestor—not unlike apes and humans.

Vampirism spans numerous
eras and cultures.
HVV probably started off identical to rabies before mutating into a virus more similar to HIV and HPV, which alter cellular DNA. As detailed before, HVV bears the following differences from other viruses: it can infect and replicate in cells without destroying them, infect many different types of cells, and complete its incubation period in less than 24 hours. It's also the most logical order in which the virus evolved these characteristics. Most viruses to this day are no more advanced than they were thousands of years ago because they still haven't "learned" to stop killing the cells they infect. This is perhaps HVV's greatest evolutionary achievement, as it set the foundation for many beneficial mutations to occur. Infection of the entire body was another important step, as it would prevent rejection of mismatched tissue. From there, infection of the thyroid gland resulted in faster replication.

Despite these accomplishments, the virus would still need to go through a long and rigorous refinement process in order to correctly "rewrite" all the cells they infect. Early proto-vampires were most likely mindless, feeble and short-lived—riddled with cancer, tissue necrosis and immune disorders before natural selection weeded out the failures. Non-human mammals provide some proof of this, as they will display these very symptoms after transformation, and generally die within a week. The virus has no effect on non-mammalian species, although they can still become short-term carriers before the virus dies in their system. The only known long-term carrier is the aforementioned bat flea.

No intact or discernible fossils of vampires older than 10,000 years have ever been discovered, unfortunately, leaving only these educated guesses regarding their evolution.


Stages of the Disease

Electron micrograph of HVV (L).
The virus budding off an infected cell (R).
Stage One: Infection.
Within six to twelve hours of exposure, the victim develops a headache, fever, chills and other flu-like symptoms. These can be easily confused with influenza and other common infections, although the presence of pinpricks or puncture wounds on the body is usually enough to confirm the diagnosis. An increase in metabolism occurs as well, resulting in faster heart rate, extreme thirst, excessive sweating, frequent urination, rapid weight loss, and moderate to severe itching. These symptoms generally last another six to twelve hours, during which the vaccine is over 98 percent effective. The bite wound itself will become badly bruised and inflamed during this stage, and should be cleaned as thoroughly as possible and treated with antibiotics. The victim should also make sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

In 1800 France, an infected woman is given
a transfusion of goat's blood— a desperate,
futile measure to ward off the disease.
Stage Two: Coma. Within 24 hours of exposure, the victim will slip into a vampiric coma. During this phase, pulse and breathing are fast and erratic, the pupils are dilated, and the skin is sweating profusely; virus production, cellular conversion and weight loss continue at a rapid but steady pace. While it is commonly believed that anyone infected with HVV turns into a vampire, in fact only a small percentage of people survive vampiric comas. Generally, the very 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. For the latter group, vampiric comas last about a day and typically end at night, but the former demographic may linger for an additional day or so before death. The vaccine is roughly 50 percent effective when administered during the first half of this stage: the longer the coma has passed, the less effective the vaccine. Vaccination is of no use once the body becomes cold and the heart slows to a complete stop. Although this means death for most victims, it's only a ruse for others: metabolism, breathing and circulation persist, but at a very faint capacity. Thousands have been buried alive because of this.

During vampirism epidemics,
many victims were buried while
still in a vampiric coma.
Stage Three: Transformation. An HVV victim who survives the coma will awaken fully transformed into a vampire. An acclimation period follows—characterized by confusion, despondency and paranoia, along with the pain of dehydration and malnutrition. If the fledgling is at a house or other place of residence, it may attempt to normalize its situation by getting a drink of water, using the bathroom, or taking a shower—completely in denial about what it's become. These old comforts won't last long, unfortunately; soon, an overwhelming hunger for blood will take over and drown out all other needs and concerns. Within 24 hours of transformation, the vampire will abandon its former life and begin hunting—starting with pets, and even friends and family, if need be. All virus activity goes dormant once its mutagenic task is complete, and will remain within the mutated cells and body fluids until introduced into the warm bloodstream of another human or non-human mammal, where it will awaken to start the process all over again.


Additional Symptoms

Although many of the symptoms during the first stage of infection are virtually identical to influenza, the more unusual ones should be cause for alarm.

In the interest of public health, we've compiled a full list for both the first and second stages of infection. Unless stated otherwise, they'll generally appear during the first stage and become progressively worse up until the coma, where they'll stabilize and persist until the transformation is complete.
Vampire vaccine in an
earlier incarnation

Unfortunately, hospitals in the United States no longer carry stores of the human vampirism immune globulin and vaccine (known together as simply "the vaccine"). The remaining supply is locked away in an underground vault at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. The decision to store the supply came in 1963 after U.S. officials deemed the threat from vampires to be over. There was also concern over the safety of having vaccine accessible at hospitals, since in rare cases it can actually cause vampirism.

If you feel you have contracted HVV, then you should head to the nearest hospital straight away, and hope for the best. If you were bitten by an animal, tell them that the symptoms showed up within several hours so they can rule out rabies and other diseases. If it was a vampire, show them the bite wound and describe what the attacker looked like: pale skin, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils should suffice. Do not mention vampirism, because you'll just sound crazy. Hopefully they'll call the CDC and convince them to fly the vaccine out to you in time. The closer you live to Atlanta, the higher your chances will be. If you're lucky enough to live in Atlanta, then you should definitely head to the CDC instead of a hospital.


HVV patients were typically restrained
during their treatment and recovery.
Bite Wound: The mouth of a vampire (or vampire bat) is saturated with not only HVV virions, but also bacteria and anticoagulants. As a result of this unhealthy cocktail, the wound will experience moderate to severe bruising and inflammation, with persistent aching that turns to tingling and numbness as the coma nears. Vampiric saliva also contains a potent narcotic that makes the victim drowsy.

Systemic: High fever, with moderate to severe chills. Viral infection of the thyroid gland increases metabolism for the purpose of faster replication. Drying of the tissues, dilated vessels and weight loss are some of the more prominent metabolic symptoms, and can be potentially fatal if the victim becomes overly dehydrated or malnourished. Hormones secreted by the infected cells can also cause symptoms such as acne and heavy menstruation. During the coma, fever is dangerously high and persists for roughly 12 hours, before dropping sharply into room temperature.

A comatose child shortly before her death.
Note the bloodshot, hyperdilated eye.
Eyes: Inflammation, watering and blurred vision. Pupils become fully dilated during the coma.

Ears: Dryness, itching and aching in the outer ear, with aching and congestion in the tubes of the middle ear.

Nose: Sneezing and congestion with clear discharge.

Mouth: Dryness and chapped lips; inflammation of the oral mucosa, with possible ulceration.

Throat/Lungs: Dryness, coughing, soreness and inflammation, with possible ulceration of the esophagus. Moderate to severe inflammation of the lungs during the coma, which can be fatal.

Skin: Dryness, itching, flaking and possible cracking; flushing, with redness around the eyes, nose, mouth and throat; excessive sweating, with possible acne and hives in places covered by clothing. During the coma, some degree of acne and hives will appear on the victim's back and buttocks, as well as the backside of their shoulders, arms and legs if they're laying completely flat.

Brain/Nerves: Headache, dizziness and general discomfort; hypersensitivity to stimuli such as light, sound and touch; insomnia, mood swings and irritability, with possible auditory hallucinations. Dementia, tingling, numbness, loss of motor control and partial paralysis shortly before the coma, with possible seizures. Moderate to severe inflammation of the brain during the coma, which can be fatal.

Muscles: Fatigue, weakness and joint pain, with shivering due to chills, and minor spasms in the extremities. During the coma, these spasms become more synchronized, allowing blood flow to continue even after the heart stops.

Heart: Increased heart rate, with high blood pressure and possible palpitations. Can be potentially fatal for those with pre-existing conditions. Moderate to severe palpitations during the coma until around the halfway mark, when the heart slows and cardiac arrest sets in.

GI Tract/Bladder: Extreme thirst, loss of appetite and frequent urination; nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain with possible bloating, excess gas and diarrhea (depending on food contents); moderate to severe acid reflux and inflammation of the stomach lining, with possible ulceration.
An example of skin discoloration, flaking and
abdominal swelling during the coma

Liver/Spleen: Moderate to severe swelling and inflammation with concurrent abdominal pain and fluid bloating, all of which can be easily confused with the GI symptoms. This interference with their normal functions also causes a gradual buildup of the waste product bilirubin in the victim's bloodstream and extracellular fluid, causing the skin and the whites of the eyes to develop a sickly yellow coloration during the coma stage.

Blood/Vessels: Viral interference with the liver, bone marrow and vessel lining causes a temporary reduction in clotting factors and coagulation. As a result, the hyperdilated vessels will leak more easily, causing the skin to bruise and the victim to cough up, vomit and excrete blood, with possible hemorrhoid formation. Mild bleeding from the eyes, nose, gums and sweat glands may also occur as well, either during the coma or just before it hits. If the victim is susceptible to strokes, then this can be potentially fatal.

Lymph Nodes/Vessels: Moderate to severe swelling and inflammation, causing the neck to appear lumpy or enlarged.

Continue to Part III
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