The Plague, boss! The Plague!
F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU did not create the link betwixt vampires and the plague. In fact vampires and pestilence were linked from the hazy beginnings of the vampire legend. Remember that prior to the Victorian era or slightly earlier, the vampire was not a suave, personable, sexy supernatural predator. (Thank Ruthven and Varney and Bela Lugosi for indelibly instilling that notion into public consciousness.) It was a zombie-like, resurrected corpse. It stank and it spread disease. The only difference between it and one of the shambling Walkers from THE WALKING DEAD is that it had a personality. The vampire represented and personified the fear of death and all the unpleasantries that went along with it. Things like decomposition and disease, for example.
Humans have been dealing with the plague, or the Plague, for perhaps as long as they’ve been dealing with vampires. New evidence shows that the infamous Black Death, caused by the bacterium YERSINIA PESTIS (“Black Death” rolls off the tongue more smoothly, doesn’t it?) first arrived in Europe almost 5000 years ago. One can safely assume the vampire followed shortly after–if it wasn’t already there to begin with. Did the vampire spring into being as a scapegoat for the Plague, or was the outbreak blamed on a supernatural threat already in existence?