Learn About Kuru

What is the definition of Kuru?

Kuru is a disease of the nervous system.

Save information for later
Sign Up
What are the alternative names for Kuru?

Prion disease - kuru

What are the causes of Kuru?

Kuru is a very rare disease. It is caused by an infectious protein (prion) found in contaminated human brain tissue.

Kuru is found among people from New Guinea who practiced a form of cannibalism in which they ate the brains of dead people as part of a funeral ritual. This practice stopped in 1960, but cases of kuru were reported for many years afterward because the disease has a long incubation period. The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after being exposed to the agent that causes disease.

Kuru causes brain and nervous system changes similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Similar diseases appear in cows as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called mad cow disease.

The main risk factor for kuru is eating human brain tissue, which can contain the infectious particles.

What are the symptoms of Kuru?

Symptoms of kuru include:

  • Arm and leg pain
  • Coordination problems that become severe
  • Difficulty walking
  • Headache
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Tremors and muscle jerks

Difficulty swallowing and being unable to feed oneself can lead to malnutrition or starvation.

The average incubation period is 10 to 13 years, but incubation period of 50 years or even longer have also been reported.

Not sure about your diagnosis?
Check Your Symptoms
What are the current treatments for Kuru?

There is no known treatment for kuru.

Who are the top Kuru Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
13
conditions

Medical University Of Lodz

Lodz, LD, PL 92216

Pawel Liberski is in Lodz, Poland. Liberski is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Kuru. He is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Kuru, Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker Syndrome, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and Fatal Familial Insomnia.

Elite
Highly rated in
8
conditions

MRC Prion Unit At UCL

London, ENG, GB 

John Collinge is in London, United Kingdom. Collinge is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Kuru. He is also highly rated in 8 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Fatal Familial Insomnia, and Dementia.

 
 
 
 
Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
Elite
Highly rated in
12
conditions

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

London, ENG, GB 

Simon Mead is in London, United Kingdom. Mead is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Kuru. He is also highly rated in 12 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Kuru, Fatal Familial Insomnia, and Dementia.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Kuru?

Death usually occurs within 1 year after the first sign of symptoms.

When should I contact a medical professional for Kuru?

See your health care provider if you have any walking, swallowing, or coordination problems. Kuru is extremely rare. Your provider will rule out other nervous system diseases.

Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system
What are the latest Kuru Clinical Trials?
Match to trials
Find the right clinical trials for you in under a minute
Get started
What are the Latest Advances for Kuru?
MicroRNAs in Prion Diseases-From Molecular Mechanisms to Insights in Translational Medicine.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : December 24, 2020
Published By : Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bosque PJ, Tyler KL. Prions and prion disease of the central nervous system (transmissible neurodegenerative diseases). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 179.

Tee BL, Geschwind MD. Prion diseases. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 94.