Thursday, April 14, 2005

Laughing Sickness

Since I so often laugh or grin uncontrollably, mostly when trying to ride herd on my kids, I thought it might be fun to take a look at Kuru, or "Laughing Sickness:"

Gajdusek studied Kuru, and he found the condition of Kuru victims to be an upsetting sight. He explains, " see them, however, regularly progress to neurological degeneration in three to six months (usually three) and to death is another matter and cannot be shrugged off" (Gajdusek, 1996:10). Gajdusek reported three main stages in the progression of symptoms. The first stage is called the ambulant stage, and it includes unsteadiness of stance, gait, voice, hands, and eyes; deterioration of speech; tremor; shivering; in- coordination in lower extremities that moves slowly upward; and dysarthria (slurring of speech). The second stage is also known as the sedentary stage, and Gajdusek defines it with the following symptoms: patient can no longer walk without support, more severe tremors and ataxia (loss of coordination of the muscles), shock-like muscle jerks, emotional lability, outbursts of laughter, depression, and mental slowing (it is important to note that muscle degeneration has not occurred in this stage, and tendon reflexes are usually still normal). The third stage is the terminal stage, which is marked by the patient´s inability to sit up without support; more severe ataxia (loss of muscle coordination), tremor, and dysarthria (slurring of speech); urinary and faecal incontinence; difficulty swallowing (dysphagia); and deep ulcerations appear. Cerebellar dysfunction is the cause of these conditions. Symptoms are generally common among prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease(CJD).

...Or non-prion disorders like ALS.

Left grip is 46 pounds (43, 42, 46), right grip is 95 pounds (92, 94, 95), left leg balance is 11.83 seconds, and inhale volume is 4700 mL.

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