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Did Rabies Inspire Tales of Vampires and Werewolves?

In 1855, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the gruesome murder of a bride by her new husband. The story came from the French countryside, where the woman’s parents had initially prevented the couple’s engagement “on account of the strangeness of conduct sometimes observed in the young man,” although he “otherwise was a most eli[g]ible match.”

The parents eventually consented, and the marriage took place. Shortly after the newlyweds withdrew to consummate their bond, “fearful shrieks” came from their quarters. People quickly arrived to find “the poor girl… in the agonies of death — her bosom torn open and lacerated in a most horrible manner, and the wretched husband in a fit of raving madness and covered with blood, having actually devoured a portion of the unfortunate girl’s breast.”

The bride died a short time later. Her husband, after “a most violent resistance,” also expired.

What could have caused this horrifying incident? “It was then recollected, in answer to searching questions by a physician,” that the groom had previously “been bitten by a strange dog.” The passage of madness from dog to human seemed like the only possible reason for the grisly turn of events.

The Eagle described the episode matter-of-factly as “a sad and distressing case of hydrophobia,” or, in today’s parlance, rabies.

But the account read like a Gothic horror story. It was essentially a werewolf narrative: The mad dog’s bite caused a hideous metamorphosis, which transformed its human victim into a nefarious monster whose vicious sexual impulses led to obscene and loathsome violence.

Full Story From Live Science 

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