Link between MERS virus and camels worries breeders

Updated 18 August 2013
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Link between MERS virus and camels worries breeders

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.”


Two Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in Gaza Strip: ministry

Updated 27 May 2018
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Two Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in Gaza Strip: ministry

GAZA CITY: Israeli tank fire, at what is claimed to be a militant observation post, killed two Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday, the enclave’s health ministry and sources from the militant movement said.
The ministry identified those killed as Hussein Al-Amour, 25, and Abdul Haleem Al-Naqa, 28. The incident happened east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, a ministry spokesman said.

Separately on Saturday night, Israeli aircraft struck two targets belonging to Islamist movement Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, but there were no reports of casualties.
The military said the operation was in response to a brief incursion across the border earlier in the day by Palestinians who immediately fled back into Gaza.
It added that the strike was also in retaliation for repeated Palestinian attempts to damage the border fence and "security infrastructure" during ongoing border protests.
At least 118 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip since mass protests and clashes broke out on March 30, according to figures from the Gazan health ministry.
No Israelis have been killed during that time.
Low-level demonstrations along the border have continued since protests peaked on May 14, when at least 61 Palestinians died as tens of thousands of Gazans protested the US moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop mass incursions into its territory.
It accuses Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008, of seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.