If anyone talks of Vampires it is inevitable that the image of a bat comes to mind, they have influenced our concept of Vampires prominently.
In various cultures the image of the bat are so different according to cultural backgrounds. In South America  the bat god Camazotz lived in the Bathouse of the Underworld. In Europe because bats are night creatures , they are considered to have  supernatural powers. Gypsies on the other hand thought  they brought luck so they wore handmade charms made of bat bones. In England the Wakefield crest depict bats.

The Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century noticed the similarity in the feeding habits of bats and those of the mythical Vampires, this was long before the association was made by different well known authors . The most well known of these Bram Stoker and the image he created of Vampires showing their close relationship to bats.
Vampires were unknown in England before the 18th century. The first time Vampire was used in the English language was round about 1732. This was after publicized reports of Vampire attacks in Europe at the time. One of the most popular reports was the staking of Arnod Paole.
During this century it was considered that Vampires did truly exist, especially with reports of Vampire attacks in Eastern Prussia and Austro-Hungary between 1721 and 1734.
The most famous of these reports were of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole. Apparently Plogojowitzhad died at the age of 62 and returned back from the dead, apparently he was hungry so begged for food from his son who was shocked to see him alive and drove him away. The next day they day they found the son dead he died from a loss of blood and it was assumed that Plogojowitz had killed him for refusing to feed him.
Arnod Paole who had been a soldier now turned farmer had claimed to have been attacked by a Vampire during his time in the army.So then after his death when people started to die, the story that spread was that he had come back as Vampire to prey on the neighbourhood.
Because of these reports people began to run rampant digging up bodies,driving stakes in the corpses heart and decapitating them just in case they came back a Vampire and attack them in some cases they even burned the corpses. Scholars at the time tried to disprove the existence of Vampires by claiming that premature burials and possibly rabies were the causes of these so called Vampire attacks.
Another well documented case was that of Elizabeth Bathory, she was the first person to be truly declared a Vampire she claimed the title Queen of Blood.. She was a very sadistic lady whose deeds have made her the most infamous in Vampire Legend.
A well known scholar at that time Dom Augustine Calmet published a treatise in 1746 proclaiming that Vampires did really exist.
The Austrian Empress Marie Therea wanted disprove these reports on Vampires so she commanded he personal physician  to investigate all sightings to finally put all fears to rest. She even had to go far as to pass a law prohibiting the desecration of graves.
But over the passage of time the image of the Vampire had been moulded in such a way that they were recognized as an intricate part of myth & legend.

Gypies are originally believed to have started  in Eygpt, they lived as nomads. After 1000AD they had spread through the Balkans and India and later through whole Europe. They temporarily settled in Turkey that is why when listening to the Romany language one can pick many Turkish words now intermingled in their language.
They arrived in Romania before the birth of Vlad Dracula.
Their religious beliefs are very complicated between their many tribes but have one god O Del. Their beliefs are such that there are fiercely loyal to the dead and believe that there is no true death. Because at death the soul stays close to its former body and will try to come back. This belief further enriched the Vampire myth & legend of the Balkans.
In India they too have many mythical Vampire figures, in Indian myth the soul is called Bhuta. Meaning that someone has died before his time  this soul would animate dead bodies. One of the Vamperic creatures was called Brahmaparusha, its head was encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood.
Kali is the most famous Indian Vampire, she had four arms and wore a garland made of victims corpses and skulls. Her most famous battle was against the demon Raktabija, his ability was that he could reproduce himself with every drop of blood he lost during battle. So in order to defeat him Kali had to drink all his blood to prevent him from reproducing himself.