What is Kuru Disease and How Can You Prevent It?
If you have ever heard of the dreadful kuru disease, you may be curious about what it is and whether it’s curable. Read on to learn more about this ancient disease, when was the last case of kuru reported, and whether you can get it yourself. The most important question to ask is: “Are there any known ways to prevent it?”
What happens when you get kuru disease?
Kuru is a form of dementia caused by the presence of a protein known as a prion. This protein molecule causes other proteins in the body to change shape and cause disease. This form of disease has similar symptoms to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and is found in humans and other animals.
Patients with this disease experience difficulty walking and coordination, tremors, and muscle spasms. Eventually, they can’t stand and are in a comatose state. Patients may also experience difficulty swallowing and feeding themselves. Patients with kuru typically die within 24 months.
Despite its rarity, kuru was once widespread in Papua New Guinea. The disease was spread through ritual cannibalism, in which people ate the tissues of their deceased family members. Unfortunately, this practice is now almost eradicated.
Can kuru disease be cured?
Kuru is a rare, fatal brain disease that affects the Fore people of New Guinea. During the 1950s and 1960s, this disease reached epidemic proportions in the highlands. The disease was contracted through ritualistic cannibalism, during which relatives prepared the brain tissue of deceased relatives. Brain tissue was highly infectious and could be transmitted to other people through eating and contact with open sores. However, the disease has been mostly eradicated because of government efforts to discourage cannibalism.
The symptoms of kuru disease include loss of coordination, difficulty walking, and shivering. Some patients develop muscle stiffness and tremors. In addition, they may experience myoclonus, a sudden laughter that can be fatal. Patients will eventually lose their ability to speak, swallow, and maintain their posture. The disease usually progresses to a fatal coma within six to twelve months. Symptoms of kuru disease can be difficult to spot, so it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
When was the last known case of kuru?
Kuru is a rare disease that is present only in the Fore region of the highlands of New Guinea. It has a long incubation period of over 50 years. As of 2005, there were only 9 documented cases of kuru in Fore people. Since that time, no more cases have been recorded.
While kuru was widespread in Papua New Guinea, its occurrence has declined since the early 1960s. Its emergence likely originated from the consumption of prion-contaminated tissues from the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. These contaminated tissues were often eaten as a sign of respect. People with this disease experience symptoms such as progressive deterioration of the muscles and involuntary jerks. The disease has mostly affected children and women. It is a highly infectious disease that can spread to humans by direct contact.
The disease is a devastating, fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects the Fore people in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. While it is now rare, the disease was once prevalent among the Fore people. During its peak, the disease was transmitted by eating the brains of dead people. Cannibalism ended in the 1960s, but the disease was still a concern until the 1970s, when the last known case was reported.
Can you still get kuru?
Even though there is no cure for kuru, there is a preventive measure that can help people to protect themselves from this deadly disease. The symptoms include loss of coordination, difficulty walking, shaking, and shivering. People with the disease also have trouble swallowing or maintaining posture. Ultimately, the person will lose the ability to speak. Most sufferers die within 24 months.
The disease was originally transmitted through mortuary cannibalism. Women in the Fore tribe would eat the flesh of their deceased family members at mortuary feasts. While this sounds like cannibalism, the practice was not uncommon among the Fore people. In fact, some of these people are endocannibals and eat the flesh of their dead relatives.
Why does kuru make you laugh?
The laughing sickness kuru was known to be responsible for the deaths of over a thousand Fore people between 1957 and 1968, with the majority of victims being children and women. People with kuru experience uncontrollable fits of laughter and die within a year of exhibiting the first signs. It was a devastating epidemic that affected two percent of the tribe annually, and no one was sure why it was spreading so quickly.
Because laughing death is a rare disease, medical professionals rely on a series of tests to rule out other possible causes. Typical tests include a comprehensive medical history, neurological exam, and blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies and liver dysfunction. In rare cases, an electroencephalogram can show the activity of the brain in a patient with kuru. A brain scan will also identify the swiss-cheese appearance of the brain. If the symptoms persist, doctors may perform a brain biopsy to confirm the disease.