Saudi Arabia



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Camels ‘almost certainly’ the source of deadly SARS-like virus spreading through Middle East

  • Researchers say most camels are infected with a strain of MERS virus
  • Virus similar to SARS is spreading through the Middle East
  • In Saudi Arabia there have been 345 reported cases and 100 deaths
  • Symptoms include fever, pneumonia and kidney failure
  • Advice that people should avoid close contact with camels and camel milk


Camels are being blamed as being the source of MERS, a new SARS like disease sweeping across the Middle East

Camels are being blamed as the source of the deadly MERS virus, a SARS-like condition which is spreading through the Middle East.

Researchers have warned it is not advisable to come into close contact with the animals, especially sick camels, as most are infected with the same strain of the virus as humans.

MERS, which stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has already infected 345 people in Saudi Arabia since it was identified two years ago.

There has been further concern over the spread of the virus as Saudi Arabia has reported more cases over the weekend, taking the reported number of deaths to 100.

Symptoms include fever, pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure, with a third of all sufferers eventually being killed by the virus.

Yesterday, acting Saudi health minister Adel Fakieh told a news conference: ‘There has been consensus in the discussions taking place over the last two days after the scientific team reviewed various evidence that it is advised not to get into close contact with camels, especially sick camels.’

He was speaking after meeting foreign experts including those from the World Health Organisation who were invited by the government to help investigate MERS. They have also advised people not to consume raw milk or raw meat products from camels.

A countrywide survey of camels in Saudi Arabia shows many, if not most, are infected with a strain genetically almost identical to the strain that’s infecting people, a team at Columbia University, King Saud University, and the EcoHealth Alliance reported.

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