The legend of two bloodthirsty monsters - often appearing in Hollywood horror movies - stems from a real-life disease. It is rabies.
Zombies (ghouls) and vampires have a common feature of eating meat or sucking human blood, and one bite of them is enough to turn a victim into a new zombie and vampire. According to The Verge, the scientists said the myth of these two species came from a scary disease in real life. It is rabies.
Rabies virus is spread by a bite or scratch caused by an infected animal, usually a dog or a bear. From the bite, rabies virus enters the human brain, causing terrible consequences.
Symptoms of rabies are headache, fever, anxiety, muscle aches, hallucinations, seizures, and coma. The victim may even become crazy. After only a few days, nearly 100% of rabies deaths.
A zombie army attacked Jerusalem in World War Z. (Image: Paramount).
Today, medicine has developed effective anti-rabies vaccine. Many people who are in direct contact with animals can get the vaccine. However, in many parts of the world, vaccine shortages still occur.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tens of thousands of people still die from rabies each year, mainly in Asia and Africa. 99% of infections are caused by dog bites. And up to 40% of people bitten by rabies are children under 15.
Rabies has existed for thousands of years. This dreaded disease is mentioned in ancient Greek texts and in Sumerian documents (the language common in southern Mesopotamia since the 4th millennium BC).
In Homer's Iliad, the Trojan warrior Hector uses the word "lyssa" to describe fury. This is the term used to refer to rabies in ancient Greek medical literature.
Expert Bill Wasik - author of Rabid - said that ancient people thought that rabies victims were occupied by animal spirits. And that's the source of the myths about vampires, zombies and even werewolves.
Some medical studies show that the symptoms of rabies are very similar to those described by vampires and zombies. For example, a study published in the journal Neurology in 1998 found vampires hunted at night, often attacking women while the rabies virus caused victims to lose sleep and become aggressive.
The female vampire played by Kate Beckingsale in the Underworld.(Photo: Screen Gems).
Vampires are described as being able to turn into dogs or bats. These are two animals that can spread rabies virus. A 2013 study by University of California experts (USA) shows that zombies and rabies victims have many similarities.
Zombies are extremely aggressive, bloodthirsty and often drooling. Occasionally they go limp, like rabies victims.
According to Wasik, there is a clear "cultural relationship" between rabies and legendary monsters such as zombies, vampires and werewolves. In the past, humans did not understand how rabies virus spread. Consequently, rabies infections become the source of these shadow creatures.
According to a study published in Neurology, a specific example is in the 1720s, the rabies pandemic was raging in Eastern Europe. It is also the area where legends of vampires are extremely popular.