06 July 2009

Extraction of blood and vampires

"In most fiction about vampires,...the vampire looms over his victim dramatically, then bites into her neck to such her blood" (Barber 32). The victim wilts and the vampire rears his head to expose his bloody mouth. While very impressive, this display is something that rarely departs from the arena of horror films. This blog entry will discuss the manner in which vampires extract blood from the supplier (who we will identify as 'victim' or 'donor'), and refute some common notions.

"When vampires and revenants in folklore suck blood" they "bite their victim somewhere on the thorax. Among the Kashubes, it is reported that they choose the area of the left breast; among the Russians, they leave a small wound in the area of the heart" (32). "Cremene adds that...the bite is never at the jugular but usually over the heart, the blood of which is in demand" (Waltje 47). The thorax (the upper torso) has a rich supply of blood, and is relatively easy to access. The problem with the thorax is that there are few arteries and veins near the surface. Depending on the victim, the vampire might bite into muscle or breast tissue. The lack of exposed veins does not deter the vampire. In fact, occasionally, "the victim is bitten between the eyes" in folklore (Barber 33).

The reason why most vampires choose not to bite the jugular is because in doing so they loose control over speed of discharge and blood loss. With the jugular there is "the chance of a mess, since the high-pressure arteries spurt when punctured" (Ramsland 33). The vampire may choose instead to bite a small vein, as "low-pressure veins are less likely" to gush (33). This is purely a practicality. A bite at the jugular will cause significant blood loss, and that is a waste according to all parties. A more gradual flow of blood is easier to control.

It is not conscripted that the vampire kills the victim while feeding. Furthermore, "the vampire's bite needs to neither spread vampirism nor be unpleasant" (Love 265). Because the death of the victim is not completely necessary, the idea of "Pomme de Sang" developed (Hamilton 265). In other words, a vampire does not need to kill the victim. If the vampire chooses, he/she can survive by taking small amounts of blood from many willing donors.

When many victims/donors are involved, it is important to note that infectious diseases may spread. Many communicable diseases can be spread through blood. Even if the vampire is not affected, one donor may become infected by a disease from another donor, transmitted through the vampire. Examples of these diseases include HIV and Malaria.

While most people think that malaria can only be spread via mosquito bite, there are other methods of transmission. Most common methods of malaria transmission (other than through the mosquito) are congenital, blood transfusion, and needle stick injury. Just as HIV can be transmitted on a object such as a needle, so can malaria. It follows that a bite from a vampire may transmit malaria between victims and donors. Furthermore, "following an attack of malaria, the donor may remain infective for years" (Malaria).


Infectious Bite strongly suggests that no humans engage in vampiric activities, and that extreme caution be used when handling blood.

For more information on the infectious disease of malaria, please visit our Malaria Blog.

Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial and Death.
Hamilton, Laurell K. Danse Macabre.
Love, Kathy. Fangs for the Memories.
Malaria Site: Transmission of Malaria. 5 July 2009.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Waltje, Jorg. Blood obsession: vampires, serial murder, and the popular imagination.

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