Medical Definition of Kuru

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/12/2018

Kuru: A slowly progressive fatal disease of the brain that is due to an infectious agent transmitted among people in Papua New Guinea by ritual cannibalism. Kuru is an infectious form of subacute spongiform encephalopathy and is caused by a tiny infectious particle called a prion. It appears to be similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy ('mad cow disease') and Creuztfeldt-Jakob disease. Also called trembling disease.

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018