THE LEGEND of blood-sucking vampires could have been based on real people, experts have revealed.
The mythical baddies could actually be suffering from a rare blood disorder, a new study suggests.
Folklore has portrayed vampires as undead beings who feast on the blood of innocent people.
They’re notoriously allergic to daylight, and can be repelled with garlic and a crucifix.
But, now a team of scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital believe there is another explanation.
They believe a rare genetic mutation could have caused some people to display traits of “vampires”, leading to the fictitious characters we know about today.
The condition erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), is a blood disorder that affects kids, causing their skin to become very sensitive to light.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause agonising, disfiguring blisters.
The condition affects the body’s ability to make heme, which helps make haemoglobin – part of our blood that helps carry oxygen.
And heme also helps make blood red, when it binds with iron.
People suffering EPP are “chronically anaemic”, Dr Barry Paw of the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center explained.
It means their iron levels are too low.
“It makes them feel very tired and look very pale with increased photosensitivity because they can’t come out in the daylight,” Dr Paw said.
“Even on a cloudy day, there’s enough ultraviolet light to cause blistering and disfigurement of the exposed body parts, ears and nose.”
Patients with EPP can stay inside and receive blood transfusions to combat their anaemia.
But, in ancient times, drinking animal blood and emerging only at night may have been used to achieve the same effect, the researchers noted, adding further fuel to the legend of vampires. full story