Kuru Definition is an endemic disease of Melanesian tribal people inhabiting a remote area of the Eastern Highlands of central New Guinea. The disease has been seen only among the Fore linguistic group and several neighboring groups with whom the Fore have intermarried. The disease predominantly affected adult women, but children over age five were also affected but without sexual predilection.
Adult males were least involved. The disease begins insidiously with unsteadiness of stance and gait. A progress ive symmetrical cerebellar ataxia develops over a period of months and follows a relentless, afebrile course until the patient is unable to make the slightest movement without violent ataxic tremors.
Why We Need To Understand Disease Kuru Definition?
Late in the course of the disease, abnormalities of extraocular movement and mental changes develop. The disease invariably leads to death in three to six months. Extensive laboratory examinations have failed to show any abnormali- ties, and the cerebrospinal fluid remains normal. Patho- logic changes are confined to the brain where there is a marked increase of astrocytes and degeneration of neurons with vacuolization.
The brain is diffusely affected, but the findings are most prominent in the cerebellum and pons and, a lesser degree, in the hypothalamus and basal ganglia. Inflammation is not found. Because of the similarities between kuru and scrapie in terms of epidemiology, clinical progression, and pathologic changes, brain tissue from patients dying of kuru was inoculated into a variety of primates for long- term observations.
After incubation periods of 18 months to 4 years, a similar disease developed in chimpanzees, and this disease has subsequently been transmitted from chimpanzee to chimpanzee and to several other species Of primates. The agent can be transmitted with serial dilutions, proving that it replicates within the primate host. However, like scrapie, the agent of kuru has not been seen by electron microscopy, does not induce cytopathic changes in cell culture, is resistant to physical and chemical treatments that usually inactivate viruses, and fails to evoke a demonstrable immune response in man or experimentally infected primates.
In recent years, there has been a striking decline in the incidence of kuru, particularly among children, in whom the disease has essentially disappeared. This decreasing incidence has been coincident with the suppression of cannibalism in this primitive culture, and there is considerable circumstantial evidence indicating that kuru was transmitted during the practice of ritual cannibalisrn.