News / Middle East

MERS Virus Found in Camels in Qatar, Linked to Human Spread

FILE - Camels are seen in a farm with the skyline of Doha, Qatar, in the background.
FILE - Camels are seen in a farm with the skyline of Doha, Qatar, in the background.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Scientists have found cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in camels in Qatar, health officials said on Thursday, fueling speculation that camels might be the animal reservoir that allowed the virus to infect and kill humans.
    
The SARS-like coronavirus, which emerged in the Middle East last year and has killed almost 40 percent of the around 170 people so far infected, was found in three camels in a herd in a barn also linked to two human cases of MERS infection.
    
"The three camels were investigated among a herd of 14 camels, and the samples were collected as part of the epidemiological investigation," Qatar's Supreme Council of Health said in a statement.
 
It added that the two confirmed human cases linked to the barn "have since then recovered."
    
Ab Osterhaus, a professor of virology at the Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands which worked on the camel study, told Reuters the results were confirmed by a range of tests including sequencing and antibody testing.
    
Scientists around the world have been seeking to pin down the animal source of MERS virus infections ever since the first human cases were confirmed.
    
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its latest MERS update on November 22 that of the 176 laboratory-confirmed and probable reported human cases to date, 69 people have died.
    
British researchers who conducted some of the very first genetic analyses on MERS last September said the virus, which is from the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, is also related to a virus found in bats.
    
Dutch scientists said in August they had found strong evidence that the MERS virus is widespread among one-humped dromedary camels in the Middle East - suggesting people who become infected may be catching it from camels used for meat, milk, transport and racing.
    
And Saudi officials said earlier this month that a camel there had tested positive for MERS a few days after its owner was confirmed to have the virus.
    
Human cases of MERS, which can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia, have so far been reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tunisia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.
    
Osterhaus, whose team worked with the Qatar's health and environment ministries on the study, said that at this stage "no more details can be disclosed" about these latest findings since a scientific paper is in the process of being prepared and submitted for peer review and publication.
    
The Qatari health council said however that as a precaution, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory illnesses should avoid any close animal contact when visiting farms and markets.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid