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15 August 2008, JellyBean @ 2:57 pm

In the early twentieth century, there was an outburst of unexplained infant deaths in Albania. At the time little was known about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and in this undeveloped country, the finger was immediately pointed at the shtriga.

In Albanian folklore the shtriga is a vampiric witch which sucks the blood of infants during the night. Afte she has had her fill, she would then turn into a small flying insect (typically a moth, bee or fly) and make her escape.

She would also sometimes take adult victims by sucking out their ‘spirtus vitaé’, the living force, while they slept. However she preferred to drink from infants and young children as their force was stronger.


On a rare occasion, the shtriga would cure those she had drained by spitting in their mouths. The children who remain uncured will get extremely sick, go into comas, and then ultimately die.

The Albanian shtriga was typically seen as a woman who lived in secret within the community. A common telltale sign was that of a young girl whose hair was turning white. Other people believe that the Shtriga is a flying demon who would only attack at night.

There were ways to catch and expose a shtriga. The easiest way was to wait until the community gathered in a church. A person would then nail a cross made out of pig bone to the door of the church. When the people left the church, the shtriga would be unable to pass through the door, thus trapping her inside the church.

Another way was to follow a suspected Shtriga and see if she vomited up the blood of her victims. It was also said that if you soak a silver coin in this blood and wear it wrapped in a cloth around your neck, you will have permanent protection from any shtriga.

It is often said that an iron wrought round may kill a shtriga but only when the shtriga is eating.

The saddest thing about the supposed shtriga attack in the early twentieth century was that many infants died because of their parents trying to protect them. Parents would wrap their children up tightly in blankets to try to protect them from the shtriga’s eye. Unfortunately this caused a vast number of children to suffocate. These deaths then served to stoke the prevailing hysteria which in turn perpetuated more deaths.

Even though Albania has moved to a more modern society, there are still many people who believe in the shtriga and her insatiable appetite for human blood.

The shtriga is related to other witch/vampires such as the Romanian strigoi, Polish strzyga and the Roman strix.

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