Rabies: a possible explanation for the vampire legend

Neurology. 1998 Sep;51(3):856-9. doi: 10.1212/wnl.51.3.856.


In the 18th century, belief in vampires--allegedly dead persons who left their graves and killed people and animals--raised great concern in the Balkans and an extensive debate in Europe. This historic phenomenon still awaits a comprehensive explanation. This article proposes that rabies may have played a key role in the development of the vampire legend, given the coincident time of the phenomena and the striking similarities between them.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Europe
  • History, 18th Century
  • Humans
  • Mythology*
  • Rabies / history*
  • Rabies / physiopathology