Kuru is a disease of the nervous system.
Prion disease - 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.
Symptoms of kuru include:
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.
There is no known treatment for kuru.
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.
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.
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.
Death usually occurs within 1 year after the first sign of symptoms.
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.
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.
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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.