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If a TB victim dreamed of being visited by a recently dead relative, a preindustrial culture might conceivably dig up the corpse to take a look.An unembalmed corpse a few days after death might look suspiciously ruddy, in the pink of health–because its capillaries were breaking down and leaking into the surrounding tissue.The leap to thinking Uncle John has been visiting little Nancy at night and sucking her blood isn’t a great one, especially if blood is seeping from John’s mouth, as it well might be as his lip and mouth tissue decay. Blood-sucking animated corpses, damned, out to damn all their victims. Thus a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox believer in vampires could use the crucifix, holy water, or the host to ward off a vampire.
When there was no cure for tuberculosis, victims of “consumption” became pale, thin, and listless, and would finally die.
With disease and injury rampant in a preindustrial world, deaths might occur in the family.