No one survived this deadly illness!
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Picture the most perilous disease on Earth, a condition with a nearly 100% fatality rate – a rarity in our modern world. Amid the countless diseases that impact millions worldwide daily, one, in particular, stands out as a silent and deadly threat: Kuru.
Kuru, often referred to as the ‘laughing death,’ is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that emerged from the depths of Papua New Guinea in the 1950s, with its origins rooted in the practices of cannibal tribes. In the language of the Fore tribe, ‘Kuru’ carries two haunting meanings: ‘trembling’ and ‘deterioration.’
According to the experts at MediGoo, this terrifying ailment is triggered by abnormally folded prion proteins. Its primary symptoms are a loss of coordination and tremors, making it an insidious foe.
But why the nickname ‘laughing death’? Some victims were observed with peculiar smiles, while others suffered from random and uncontrollable fits of laughter – an eerie and unsettling aspect of this disease.
The unsettling truth is that Kuru spread through cannibalistic funeral rituals practiced by the Fore people, who believed they could inherit the deceased’s wisdom and prestige. This macabre ritual was primarily carried out by women and children, leading to a higher prevalence of the disorder in these groups. Meanwhile, men tended to consume muscle tissue instead.
Even those who had no part in the cannibalistic rituals were not safe. Kuru could also infect individuals who came into contact with someone carrying the disease and had an open wound, as per Healthline.
Although the practice of consuming brain tissue ceased in the 1960s, Kuru’s legacy persisted, claiming lives for years to come.
One of the most chilling aspects of Kuru is its incubation period, which can stretch for several years or even decades. When symptoms finally emerge, the afflicted individual typically has only a year or two to live.
Kuru progresses in three ominous stages. First, it begins with headaches and joint pain. Then, the person’s ability to walk deteriorates, accompanied by tremors and involuntary jerks. Finally, in the last stage, speech becomes impossible, dementia sets in, and even basic tasks like eating and swallowing become daunting challenges.
Sadly, Kuru has no known cure, and it is almost always fatal, typically claiming its victim’s life within a year.
Interestingly, from 2010 onwards, no deaths from Kuru have been reported – though details about the last known case remain somewhat murky. Some sources suggest the last person succumbed to Kuru in 2005, while others claim it was in 2009, adding an eerie air of mystery to the disease’s final chapter.