Guy Boothby (1867 – 1905), the Australian author of the ‘Dr Nikola’ series of stories combined tales of derring-do with the threat of a sinister power-crazed and mesmeric doctor.
In stature he was slightly above the ordinary, his shoulders were broad, his limbs perfectly shaped and plainly muscular, but very slim.
His head, which was magnificently set upon his shoulders, was adorned with a profusion of glossy black hair; his face was destitute of beard or moustache, and was of oval shape and handsome moulding.
His skin was of a dark olive hue, a colour which harmonized well with his piercing blackeyes and pearly teeth.
Needless to say, Dr Nikola appeared slightly foreign, and his gaze induced awe, love and fear. While his medical qualifications remained obscure, his powers both to heal and harm were great, and included occult as well as scientific arts…
Children’s hairstyles are often a source of trouble in schools, but I have only once been asked to intervene as a psychiatrist, although the boy’s hair was very long and beautifully cared for.
In the early nineteenth century Peter might have had ‘Plica Polonica’ (Polish Plait), supposed to be a disease caused by a demon which settled if the plait of neglected knotted hair full of lice eggs were allowed to grow, taking the illness with it. The condition largely disappeared in the nineteenth century when it became clear that lack of basic hair hygiene (washing, combing cutting) was the problem and rumours of a tax circulated.
Renfield, the ‘lunatic’ patient in ‘Dracula, is in need of a ‘back story’. So perhaps his cousin Gar Field was once invited to Christmas dinner with the Count and his Vampiresses. He successfully escapes, much to their fury, and doesn’t even get norovirus..,
Thank you to my neighbours for the festive post-box. In it are Greetings for all my blog readers.
The real blood-sucking (or blood-lapping) vampire bats, are found in the Americas. The common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) feeds solely on blood, a trait known as ‘haematophagy’. (Compare this with Renfield’s so-called ‘zoophagy’.) These bats are quite small, even cute-looking, but rabies is still a possibility.
For a dental note: it is the two sharp front teeth which open up the blood vessel, then the long tongue takes over. Note that in the ‘Dracula’ novel and most movies it is the canine teeth that cause the damage but Count Orlok in ‘Nosferatu’ has teeth like this, as do rats.
Rabies can be caused by a bite from a British bat, the Daubenton. It is caused by the European Bat Lyssavirus – EBLV, which was first found in a bat in Florida in 1953. While in the UK there has only been one case of human rabies acquired from a native bat, in 2002, this was fatal. An infected bat was found as recently as October 2019.
In humans symptoms of the disease include:
anxiety, headaches and fever in the early stages
spasms of the swallowing muscles making it difficult or impossible to drink (hence ‘hydrophobia’)
Post-exposure treatment (PET) using rabies vaccine with or without human rabies immunoglobulin (HRIG) is highly effective in preventing disease if given correctly and promptly after exposure. For advice see: www.gov.uk/government/publications/rabies
While Count Dracula seems to have had mild hydrophobia, his swallowing seems to have remained intact.