United States: Currently on the trending list on most of the Chinese social media platforms is a story that involved a Chinese woman who was identified as having “vampire disease.” Her husband and children were also tested to have the gene for such an ill ailment. 

More about the news 

The word fatigue is usually associated with getting tired and feeling low energy; however, the proper definition is that perhaps this is not enough sleep, stress, or the pathology that is characteristic of the majority of contemporary people. 

However, we can also illustrate that fatigue and low energy levels can cause certain diseases, as Global Times-News reported. 

Another victim, who is a 52-year-old woman surnamed Lin, was diagnosed with porphyria – a disease that has recently become familiar to the Chinese public due to its previous alias, ‘the vampire disease.’ 

Initially, she began experiencing symptoms such as weakness and excessive fatigue, which she initially dismissed as the effect of insufficient sleep. 

“Later, my face and hands turned yellow, and my colleagues urged me to see a doctor,” Lin recalled. 

Rare Diagnosis of 'Vampire Disease' Sparks Debate. Credit | Freepik
Rare Diagnosis of ‘Vampire Disease’ Sparks Debate. Credit | Freepik

“After work the other day, I felt like I couldn’t walk anymore. It took me almost an hour to climb the stairs from the first floor to the fourth floor, and I was out of breath with every step,” Lin added. With that, she barely could make it to the doorstep, where she collapsed, as Global Times-News reported. 

What did doctors find on diagnosis? 

Initially, local doctors suspected gallbladder issues, but tests showed low hemoglobin levels, and everything else was normal. 

After being hospitalized for over half a month at a local hospital, she recovered enough to walk on her own, but within a month, she relapsed. 

The medical team noticed an interesting pattern in Lin’s most significant abnormal indicator, hemoglobin levels fluctuating rapidly. 

It wasn’t until earlier this year that she visited Zhao Hong, a chief physician in the Infectious Diseases Department at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine. 

The doctors declared that the instant lowering of hemoglobin levels might be due to three reasons – blood loss, hemolytic diseases, or abnormal red blood cell synthesis. 

The scientists deduced that the only possible cause of disease would be porphyria. 

More about vampire disease 

Porphyria is a disease that is characterized by the deficiency or absence of enzymes in the body, rendering the body incapable of synthesizing haemoglobin, hence porphyrin metabolic disorders

Porphyria patients are photosensitive, and when they expose themselves to sun rays, they are bound to develop some forms of itching, burning, and pain, hence the nickname, “vampire disease”. 

Moreover, as Zhao added, “The symptoms of porphyria are diverse, including severe abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, muscle pain, weakness or numbness, seizures, mental disorders, and confusion.” Zhao explained. 

Treatment of the disease 

Porphyria, however, requires management with no cure to the condition, according to the experts, and the management will require to be done based on the type of porphyria affecting the patient. In case it is left untreated, the condition leads to liver and kidney failure and other similar life-threatening conditions. 

Having undergone the symptomatic treatment, Lin has improved in fatigue and can move without assistance; however, she will require other management and periodic check-ups in the future. 


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