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A zebra is a rare or interesting medical case with black-and-white stripes that can trample you over if you're not careful.[1] Because zebras are so hard to find let alone test for, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) will be resorting to unicorns instead.[2]

From Scrubs Season 1 Episode 13 "My Balancing Act"

Dr. Cox and J.D. are the bedside of an ICU patient, Mr. Yeager, who has both of them stumped. But J.D. thinks he has an answer.

J.D.: So, judging from the ataxia, dysarthia, and the mental status change, I've concluded that Mr. Yeager is suffering from... kuru.

DR. COX: Kuru?

J.D.: Kuru.

DR. COX: Kuru.

J.D.: Yes, kuru.

DR. COX: Wow. I'd actually never thought of that.

J.D.: Hell, yeah.

DR. COX: Were you aware that the only documented cases of kuru were members of a cannibalistic tribe in eastern Papua New Guinea?

J.D.: I was not.

MR. YEAGER: Actually, Doc, I was in New Guinea just last week.

J.D.: Really?


DR. COX: Newbie, do you happen to know what a zebra is?

J.D.: That patient just mocked me!

DR. COX: It's a diagnosis of a ridiculously obscure disease when it's much more likely that the patient has a common illness presenting with uncommon symptoms. In other words, if you hear hoofbeats, you just go ahead and think horsies, not zebras, mm'kay, Mr. Silly Bear?

More Animal Reading


  1. Internist Trampled to Death by Herd of Wild Zebras (Gomerblog)
  2. Internal Medicine Certification Exam to Test Fewer Zebras, More Unicorns (Gomerblog)

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