Saudi Arabia: Ministry Says 7,700 Camels Carry MERS Virus


Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced that 3.3 percent, or 7,700 out of the 233,000 camels in the Kingdom, are infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.

Forty survey teams and 200 veterinarians examined 32,000 samples from 8,000 animals, with results showing that 81.5 percent of camels are immune to the virus, while 3.3 percent carry or spread it, said Ibrahim Qassem, director general of the ministry’s livestock department.

The ministry held a press conference in Riyadh on Monday about how it was fighting MERS. There was undisputed proof that camels pass the virus to humans, said Qassem, a local publication reported on Tuesday.

Qassem reportedly said research has confirmed the relationship between camels and the virus, but it was likely debate would continue on the issue. He said the ministry was currently working on determining how the virus infects animals initially, including the possibility that they are infected by other animals.

Qassem said that a fatwa was not required to kill animals infected with the virus.

If an animal is infected, then the country’s laws allow the government to slaughter it. “The regulations include a list of diseases that may require us to dispose of the infected animal to protect human health or livestock in general,” said Qassem.

Meanwhile, primary school number 84 in Riyadh saw only 20 students turn up for classes after two students were reportedly in contact with a relative who died from the virus.

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry announced three more cases of infections but there were no deaths. A total of 627 people have now died from MERS in the country, out of 1,223 cases.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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