Studies on Kuru

IV. The Kuru Pattern in Moke, a Representative Fore Village

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  • National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Department, Bethesda, Maryland
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An intensive study of the Moke community of North Fore natives, carried out in 1957 and 1958, and continued less intensively since then, has failed to suggest any change in kuru prevalence or mortality over the past decade. The still primitive living conditions of the first half of the period, 1951 to 1955, contrast markedly with the rapid acculturation of civilized society of the second half of the decade; and yet, no alterations in the kuru pattern can be detected over these years.

Sixty-three cases of kuru have been recorded for the Moke complex of hamlets with a total population of about 240. Of these, twelve cases have been studied since the onset of investigations in 1957 and the remainder were recorded from the memories of natives by direct inquiries or coincident with the collection of genealogies. The pattern of distribution of the grounds inhabited by the kuru patients at the time of onset, of the places of death and of garden sources of food used by kuru victims, in no way suggests association between the cases or common exposure in time or place to any particular sub-ecology of the region.