Paper: Saudi Arabia to
test camels for MERS
Send a link to a friend
[June 05, 2014]
(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will test camels in the kingdom
for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), its
agriculture minister was quoted as saying, a day after a
Saudi study reinforced a long-suspected link between the
animals and human cases of the deadly virus.
There have been 691 confirmed cases of MERS, including 284 deaths,
in Saudi Arabia since it was identified two years ago, and many
scientists have said for months that camels are the most likely
source of transmission from animals to humans.
A case study published on Wednesday of a Saudi man who died from the
disease last year appeared to back that up, scientists said.
Agriculture Minister Fahad Balghunaim said a program to register and
number livestock including camels had begun last year and would be
accelerated, the Arab News English-language daily reported.
He said all camel livestock would be tested for MERS and the Saudi
Wildlife Authority would also take samples from wild camels roaming
freely in the desert to establish the level of infection from MERS
in the wider animal population.
Imported camels would also be tested for MERS and quarantined, Arab
News reported him as saying. A spokesman for the Agriculture
Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the
Although the link between camels and MERS was first identified last
year, the Agriculture Ministry had taken no action by as late as
At Riyadh's main camel market, one of the largest in the kingdom,
traders, breeders, handlers and even veterinary doctors said they
were unaware of any connection between their animals and MERS, and
said they had not been contacted by officials.
[to top of second column]
A Reuters Special Report last month cited Western scientists saying
Saudi Arabia appeared reluctant to collaborate with some specialist
laboratories around the world offering to help investigate the
possible source of MERS and explore how it spreads.
The Saudi acting health minister responded to that article saying
the kingdom was working with international health organizations and
would continue to do so.
The MERS virus, which can cause fever, coughing, shortness of breath
and pneumonia, is also thought to be spreading from human to human.
(Reporting By Angus McDowall; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.