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Notable Notes
November 2015

Victorian Vampires Validated—The Similarities Between a Legendary Creature and a Dermatologic Pathology

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(11):1225. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.2817

In 1885, the Western world was introduced to Romanian folklore with Emily Gerard’s book Transylvanian Superstitions.1 She describes a group of people who, for hundreds of years, blended Christian traditions with folk tales, which led them to believe in a demonic creature who would drink human blood. According to their superstitions, the only way to combat this monster was by driving a stake through its corpse or by removing its head and stuffing its mouth with garlic. Although countless artistic endeavors have portrayed vampires in the years since Gerard’s work published, the most iconic of them is Count Dracula, who first appeared in Bram Stoker’s defining novel in 1897.2 In Dracula, a person who appears pale and cold, is avoidant of bright lights, and has prominent teeth would carry the pathognomonic features to qualify for a vampire.2 Although this evil creature is merely a character created by human minds, one cannot help but recognize the striking resemblance certain physical features bear to people with porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT).