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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Nov 27;363(1510):3679-84. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0085.

Review. The changing face of kuru: a personal perspective.

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1
School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria 3010, Australia. mathewsj@unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

The epidemic of kuru is now known to have been transmitted among the Fore by ritual consumption of infected organs from deceased relatives. As cannibalism was suppressed by government patrol officers during the 1950s, most transmission had ceased by 1957, when the kuru research programme first commenced. As predicted in the 1960s, the epidemic has waned, with progressive ageing of kuru-affected cohorts over the years to 2007. The few cases seen in the twenty-first century, with the longest incubation periods, were almost certainly exposed as children prior to 1960. Although the research programme had almost no role in bringing the kuru epidemic to an end, it did provide important knowledge that was to help the wider world in controlling the later epidemics of iatrogenic and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

PMID:
18672465
PMCID:
PMC2581658
DOI:
10.1098/rstb.2008.0085
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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