August 13th, 2008

Brief, subcutaneous exposure to cinnabar

Time Period: Equivalent to the late Roman Empire in terms of technology and medical awareness.

Searched: "cinnabar toxic effects, "mercury toxicity subcutaneous," "mercury toxicity short-term," variations of same.

I've heard of folk being "mad as a hatter" or having the "Danbury shakes," so I know that long-term exposure to mercury fumes significantly impacts neurological functioning.

What I can't tell is how much neurological damage (if any) would be caused by the short-term introduction of powdered cinnabar to the bloodstream. This will occur in the context of a scarification ritual --as here.

Thank you!

Likely diagnosis for ongoing blood loss.

Setting: Present-day UK

Searches: Google "anemia" and "anemia blood loss".  Wikipedia "anemia" and related articles.   Wrote to a medical student (no reply yet).

Query: My character, a male in his late thirties with no history of major medical issues, has a vampire creeping in repeatedly at night and draining some of his blood, slightly faster than his body can replenish it.  He doesn't seek medical treatment until after he's passed out.

My question is this: assuming the doctor didn't know about vampires, and had no reason to suspect vampires existed, what would his reaction to these symptoms be?  What would he suspect as far as diagnoses, what tests would he give, and what treatment would he prescribe?  Would he hospitalize the guy, or treat him as an outpatient?

I've managed to find just enough to realize that this is complicated, and I don't really know how to sort it out.  I've gathered that iron pills are fairly common for mild anemia stemming from blood loss, a guy showing those symptoms would be checked for internal bleeding (which the doctors wouldn't find, on account of it being a vampire), and that transfusions are a way to treat severe anemia, but there's a lot I don't know.

ETA: Added detail.