A degenerative, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of the affected individual, manifesting signs such as involuntary, mirthless laughing. The cause of the disease is hypothesized to be a prion or a slow-acting virus.
Kuru is a sponfigorm encephalopathy that may be caused by an agent resembling scrapie of sheep. This disease was endemic among members of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea. The tribe is practicing ritual cannibalism, and this practice is presumed to be the mechanism involved in the transmission of this disease.