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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs