Warning: This article contains massive spoilers for House of the Dragon.
Episode eight of House of the Dragon had another massive jump skip since we last visited Westeros. During the six years since the marriage of Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen, we learned that the future queen of Kings Landing had bare two more kids: Aegon and Viserys. At the same time, King Viserys has been out of action due to his illness and old age, and Otto and Alicent Hightower try to take advantage of the king’s current situation.
While there were massive time skips, the show made it explicitly clear that Viserys was suffering from an illness. His body is deteriorating while his family, including his brother, still maintained their youth. Meanwhile, the king’s body is slowly deteriorating and he barely has the strength to make it to the Iron throne or stay throughout a family dinner.
What disease does King Viserys have in House of the Dragon?
While House of the Dragon showed the king receiving cuts while he sat on the throne, those injuries do not play a role in Visery’s overall illness. Episode seven also showcased the king suffering from dementia, an illness that affects the memory of elderly people, as they’re unable to recognize or remember things as they used to such as names.
But luckily for fans, Visery’s actor, Paddy Considine, revealed the main illness that plagued the king until his very last breath. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in their podcast West of Westeros, Considine revealed that the king is suffering from a form of leprosy. The illness made this man look old as his body deteriorates despite his young age.
“He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.”
Is leprosy contagious?
Leprosy isn’t a fictional illness made for the show. It’s an actual disease that is transmissible if you’re in contact with a person for a long period of time. According to the CDC, you can’t get the illness through casual contact such as shaking hands, hugging, or sitting next to each other.
However, throughout the ages, people had different attitudes when it came to dealing with people who suffer from leprosy. In some religious texts, those who suffered from the illness have to yell “unclean” whilst in public to make people aware of their condition. Others have decided to isolate those who suffer from the illness so that they’re separated from the healthy society. An example is an island of Molokai in Hawaii, which was once known as a “leper colony.”
According to the CDC, leprosy can be managed, and possibly treated through antibiotics. If left untreated, it could lead to paralysis, blindness, and loss of fingers and toes.