Arab News – Further evidence has emerged linking the MERS-Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) to camels, according to a scientific medical committee at King Saud University (KSU).
“Taking into account the accumulative epidemiological, serological and molecular evidence available, we now know that camels are the most likely reservoirs of the virus among people in Saudi Arabia,” the university medical committee said.
Responding to the range of questionable and misleading information that has been circulated on social media regarding the link between camels and the virus, the committee said: “Although some patients have a history of direct camel exposure, some patients may be exposed to the infection through the consumption of unpasteurized camel milk, which is not uncommon in Saudi Arabia. Other possible means of transmission are from person to person, or through intermediate hosts of the virus.”
The committee added that a recent study conducted by Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Igaili demonstrated that camels are a significant carrier of the MERS-CoV and that the rate of prevalence was higher in adult camels than juvenile ones. This indicates that infection in camels typically occurs early in their lives, meaning that if patients receive the MERS-CoV from camels, it will generally be from young animals.
The committee also noted that although MERS cases are reported throughout the year, the disease is seasonal. The risk of human infection may be higher during camel breeding season (spring) when more young camels are present. The first MERS cases were identified in April and June of 2012, and were followed by more cases in April and May of 2013, as well as further increases in April and May of 2014 and 2015. The increase in March to May might reflect, in part, the transmission of the virus from newly infected young camels.