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WATCH: A Tribe In Papua New Guinea Was Found To Be Brain-Eating Cannibals

August 17, 2015 | Monday

The kuru disease is one of the most mysterious diseases on Earth. It's a rare, yet extremely horrific disease caused by eating brains.

It's the deadly side effect of cannibalism. It's known as kuru, and there is no cure.

Kuru is a neurological disorder caused by what's known as family mortuary cannibalism, or eating your dead family members. It occurs specifically when the brain is consumed due to an infectious protein it may contain called a prion. It's also known as the "laughing sickness" because of the bursts of laughter its victims displayed when they were afflicted with the disease.

Contrary to popular belief, the kuru disease is not found in Toga or Liberia. It's actually endemic to the indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea, primarily the Fore tribe, who would in general dismember the corpses of their deceased relatives to be feasted on. The internal organs would be eaten by the majority of the tribe while morsels of the brain were give to young children and the elderly. Have you ever wondered what humans taste like? These people would know.

Symptoms of kuru don't appear immediately as it has an incubation period of anywhere from 5 to 50 years. The onset of kuru causes changes similar to the human version of mad cow disease, also known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Symptoms appear in three stages. During the first, ambulant stage, victims begin to lose muscle control while experiencing unsteady stance and walking as well as a deterioration in their speech. The second, sedentary stage renders the victim completely incapable of walking and also causes severe tremors. This is also when the laughing sickness becomes apparent. In the third and final terminal stage, the patient is unable to speak and even sit without support. They're unable to control their urinary or fecal discharge, are unresponsive to their surroundings, develop sores with pus and necrosis. Death typically occurs within a year of the symptoms first appearing and is oftentimes caused by pneumonia or pressure ulcer infection. Doctors have discovered this through interviews with this cannibal society.

There is no cure. The family mortuary cannibalism ritual was stopped in 1960. But because of kuru's lengthy incubation period, its most recent sufferer died in 2005.

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About Erick Abel

Erick Abel
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