Link between MERS virus and camels worries breeders



JEDDAH: RIMA AL-MUKHTAR & RUDOLFO ESTIMO JR.

Published — Saturday 10 August 2013

Last update 18 August 2013 12:49 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Some Saudis are worried that the link between the MERS virus and camels is not clear and that it could affect their livelihood as sellers of camel milk.
Yet the connection between Omani camels and a MERS-like virus has brought attention to the potential hazards of purchasing camel milk that has not been pasteurized.
“On one of Jeddah roads behind the football stadium you will find about three camel herds with their farmers sitting on the side of the main road,” said Abdulrahman Hashim, a medical student. “You can walk up to them and ask them for milk and they will sell you some. This is extremely dangerous and lack proper hygiene not to mention that it is not safe for those on the streets driving their cars.”
Hashim said it appears the camels are not cared for properly.
“I would step away from taking their milk because we don’t know if they are clean or healthy so we all should stay away from them and other camels until this study fully published and they find a cure for them,” he added.
According to a study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment have found clue that suggests camels might be involved in infecting people with MERS virus. The scientists took 50 blood samples from Omani camels and compared it to 15 of 105 samples from Spanish camels, they found that something circulating in camels that looks similar to MERS.
There are 94 confirmed cases of MERS, a SARS-like virus, and 34 reported deaths.
The news worried some Saudis who own camel farms and those who eat its meat and drink its milk.
“It is a surprising news especially during Eid and we are left wondering if we should eat it in our gatherings or not,” he said. “Now that restaurants are starting to sell more camel products, from burgers, ice cream and coffee, I’m sure they did their homework by taking a good care of their camels so I think there is no need to worry.”
Some farmers and camel owners refuse to believe the scientist’s research. “We have been eating camel meat in every big gathering and we are not ill so I am doubting this study is any good,” said Abu Mansour, a camel owner in western region. “We would rather test our own camels and see for ourselves. My camels are fine and I have people buying from me and I help other farmers breeding with my cattle for years now and nothing happen, I just need an explanation why did this news spread now.”
Although camel breeders may be skeptical, Dr. Mohammad Zakir Uddin Ahmad Khan, a general practitioner for the Ministry of Health, said there is credibility in the study.
“The finding of the scientists need further study, but it could be a possibility,” Khan told Arab News. “Camels are also mammals and if the scientists found traces of antibodies against the MERS virus in one-humped camel, that means the camel was at one point infected with MERS.”
Dr. Tanweer Alam, an emergency physician at the King Khaled International Airport (KKIA), agreed the study has merit.
“What the scientists found were not MERS virus but similar to it. Their finding could be true but it needs further study to support it.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

ABHA: Several Saudi businesswomen started traveling with a group of friends after recent regulations which allow women to travel without their mahram. These women said they find great fun to travel as a group with their friends and their children, wh...
RIYADH: The United Nations, Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the Kingdom-led coalition’s announcement of a five-day cease-fire, that took effect at midnight on Sunday, to push humanitarian relief in war-ravaged Yemen to the beleaguer...
ALKHOBAR: Jobless Saudi women constitute 70 percent of the unemployed. The Ministry of Economy and Planning said 58 percent of the jobless have preparatory school level education. According to the statistics, the annual unemployment growth rate among...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has found traces of a civilization that was domesticating horses about 9,000 years ago, 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. The discovery has shed new light on the origin of the Arabian horse, which has remained a great...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor in the Makkah region found 250 laborers working on various construction projects during restricted hours of the day. Punitive measures will be taken against the employers of these workers. According to a ministerial decr...
JEDDAH: When poverty is your guest for 15 years, gardens, parks, streets and pavements become your abode under the unavoidable scorching sun. One has to face hardships of hunger and survive on breadcrumbs. This is the situation of a 60-year-old Saudi...
JEDDAH: The negative attitudes of society in dealing with harassment and abuse cases prevent victims from reporting a great number of such cases to the authorities.Despite this, about 3,982 cases reached the country's criminal courts in 1435 and 1436...
AL-QATIF: The Omani security forces have arrested a man who, they said, accidentally fired a bullet that hit a young Saudi girl in a hotel in Musandam on Saturday. Four-year-old Zainab bint Mohammed Labad of Al-Awamiyah was playing in the hotel lobby...
Ramon Corvera, deputy chief of mission at the Argentinian Embassy in Riyadh.* Which particular aspect of Saudi Arabia you like the most? The natural beauty of the desert.* What is your favorite and oft-repeated Arabic word? Masha’Allah.* Which book i...
JEDDAH: The creativity and entrepreneurship community program of Umm Al-Qura University brought together 80 creative entrepreneurs to exchange their experiences and knowledge on Monday. Fawaz Saad, the dean of the institute for innovation and entrepr...
RIYADH: The August issue of ‘Nature’, the monthly magazine of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), will focus on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) corona, which has affected 1,055 people in the Kingdom since June 2012.The to...
LILLE, France: Saudi Arabia’s firm stand against the phenomenon of violence as well as religious, ethnic and cultural fanaticism came in for praise at an international symposium, which concluded here.The participants of the symposium on "Media Covera...
DAMMAM: Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association (SABSA) is participating in the 23rd World Scout Jamboree with the slogan “A Spirit of Unity,” which starts July 28 and runs until August 8 in Kirara-hama, Japan. A total of 32,000 scouts from 144 national...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor was able to increase the number of Saudi women employees from 70,000 to 428,000 during the past four years, Abdul Munim Al-Shehri, assistant undersecretary for special programs, has said . The ministry is now working on...
JEDDAH: A court issued a 10-year prison sentence against a health employee in Al-Ahsa and fined him SR1 million for getting involved in forgery and fraud as well as embezzling public funds in contracts to import medical equipment for the Children and...

Stay Connected

Facebook