News / Health

Camels May Be Source Of Deadly Coronavirus

A camel milk farm. Scientists have found a clue that suggests camels may be involved in infecting people in the Middle East with the MERS virus, July 3, 2013
A camel milk farm. Scientists have found a clue that suggests camels may be involved in infecting people in the Middle East with the MERS virus, July 3, 2013
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization said a recent study indicating that dromedary camels may be the source of the coronavirus is far from conclusive.   WHO said investigations must continue into the exact origins of this disease, which so far has killed 46 of the 94 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization said it welcomed any study that can shed more light on the coronavirus.  But it adds the study, which suggests a possible linkage between the infection in camels and spread of the disease to humans, leaves many questions unanswered.   

This SARS-like disease first emerged in the Middle East last year.  It is known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-Coronavirus, because of its prevalence in that region.  

An international team of researchers took blood samples from 50 camels across Oman and another 105 in the Canary Islands.  The team also tested a number of other animals from the Netherlands, Chile and Spain.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the scientists have detected the presence of a virus similar to the MERS-coronavirus in camels from Oman.  They also found antibodies in all of the Omani camels, as well as lower levels of antibodies in 15 of the camels from the Canary Islands.  

“That means that the camels have been infected at some point in time and that produced antibodies.  Now, to be sure that this is the same MERS-coronavirus as it is in humans, we need to find the virus itself, not antibodies.  So, this would be the next step-to find the virus and identify it as the same one,” stated Jasarevic.  

The disease remains shrouded in mystery.  The source of the coronavirus is not known.   No one knows how people become infected with this virus or how it is transmitted.  The illness is similar to SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.  It causes fever and pneumonia.  There is neither treatment for the coronavirus nor a vaccine to protect against the disease.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Saudi Arabia.  Others have died in Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.  Several people have fallen ill and died in France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Tunisia.  All had either visited the Middle East or been infected by someone who had been in the region.

Saudi Arabia restricted visas for the 2013 hajj, which attracts millions of pilgrims, in fear of the spread of the virus.

WHO spokesman Jasarevic said more investigations are needed because the study does not provide any insight into how humans become infected with coronavirus.

“Most reported human cases basically acquired infection through the contact with another person, and those who have not been infected by other humans, most of them have not had contacts with camels," said Jasarevic. "It is also possible that there are more than one animal species that is infected with the coronavirus.  So, basically it gives us some clue and direction to go, but… we still do not know what the source of the virus (is) and, most importantly, we still do not know what kind of exposure makes humans being infected.”  

The World Health Organization has no specific recommendations on how to prevent infection.  But it does advise people to avoid contact with sick animals and birds and to take basic hygiene measures, especially frequent hand washing and changing of clothes and boots, after handling animals or animal products.

WHO said people should not eat raw or undercooked animal products, including milk.  They should avoid unwashed fruits or vegetables, and drinks made without safe water.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More