The New England Vampire Panic

In the 19th century, a mysterious illness struck rural New England. Those affected had hacking coughs, a wasting fever and weight loss. The disease was known as "consumption" because of the way it literally consumed people from the inside out, gradually making them weaker, paler, and more lifeless until they died. Today, we know it as tuberculosis, an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that generally attacks the lungs. But back then, the prime suspect was vampires.

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A sickly girl reclines on a chaise lounge while being attended to by three other women. Watercolor by R.H. Giles.


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