So I've been thinking of what to make a journal about seeing as A. I haven't written a journal in 3 months B. I have started at least 10 journals that I never posted and C. I have a freaking Star Trek themed journal now.
I've considered writing journals about everything from how enthusiasm for intelligence is perceived in society and the detrimental effects it has on people, to how much I hate Polonius from Shakespeare's Hamlet, or, at least, how much I hate writing about him.
So the natural conclusion was obviously to make a journal about cannibalism. Yes, the consumption of human flesh.
Don't read this if you're squeamish. If that makes you want to read this even more, go right on ahead.
You see, there are many factors that could contribute to one human being devouring another. Some tribes used to see eating the bodies of the dead as a way of making them a part of you. Then there's the people who have been starving for quite a while without any food to eat. Finally, there are the people who just have, well, issues. But since I love infectious diseases, I'm going to talk about the first example.
So a while back (around the mid 20th century) in Papua New Guinea there was a tribe of people who took part in the sort of ritual cannibalism mentioned above. It was all fine and dandy until some people got sick from it. The tribesmen called it "Kuru" (meaning shaking) or "the laughing sickness." Symptoms included shaking, headaches, joint pain, and uncontrollable laughter. These symptoms, like in many diseases, came on in specific stages. Before any stages, there's a time period in which the patient is asymptomatic, which can last for months to many many years.The first stage, known as the "ambulant stage," the person can still walk (ambulant=able to walk), yet they have slurred speach and muscle tremors. In the second stage, the "sedentary stage," the tremors and ataxia become so bad that the person can't walk, the patient is emotionally unstable and begins to laugh uncontrollably, is unable to speak, and is incontinent. The third stage, or the terminal stage, results in the patient being unable to sit upright, respond to their surroundings, or control any of their muscles. From the first sign of symptoms to the last, the effects of Kuru last from 2-3 months.
The disease is most likely caused by a tramsmissable form of Creutzfeld-Jakobs Disease (CJD). Another theory is that one day they ate someone with sporadic CJD. Either way, it became the only prionic disease known to be capable of causing an epidemic among humans.
Like most scientific discoveries, one of the biggest accomplishments of the study of Kuru was to give it to a chimpanzee. This proved that the disease was spread through infected tissues and could even jump species. Poor chimp.
The last person to have Kuru died in 2005, yet the danger hasn't completely passed. Some people may still be asymptomatic, as some people remained asymptomatic for 40 years.
What came from all of this, you might ask? Well, I'd say the most important is that it is now illegal to eat people in Papua New Guinea. Good call, guys, good call.
Fan fact: CJD is also related to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, AKA Mad Cow Disease, also known as variant Creutzfeld-Jakobs Disease (vCJD). vCJD is also a transmissable prionic disease, however it has never caused an epidemic.
So I hope that this little exploration into the hazards of cannibalism makes up for the lack of journals over the past 3 months. Remember kids- don't eat people.
I dedicate this post to my friend who is obsessed with learning about cannibalism and told me to write about this in the first place. Hey, I'm not judging you- everyone needs a hobby.
EDIT: So now deviantart is lying to me and telling me that I can't have this wonderful Star Trek journal skin, yet there's still a notice saying that Blackberry is paying for journal skins. I give up.