The FIFA World Cup, which attracts global attention, started on November 20 in Qatar. The football tournament is expected to attract over a million spectators and will be held till December 8. But one week into the tournament, the World Health Organization (WHO) experts have warned about the spread of another viral respiratory tract illness Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), more commonly known as Camel Flu, which can be deadlier than COVID-19.
Recently, a study published in the journal New Microbes and New Infections stated that camel flu is one of eight potential “infection risks”, including COVID-19 and Monkeypox. The report said, “Epidemiologic data from Qatar showed the occurrence of 28 cases of MERS (incidence of 1.7 per 1,000,000 population) and most cases had a history of contact with camels.” The study further states that people
with a greater risk of developing the disease should avoid contact with dromedary camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.
Fever, coughing, and shortness of breath are the common MERS symptoms. Although pneumonia is common, MERS patients may not always get the illness. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, have also been noted in MERS patients. The mortality rate of the disease is a whopping 35%.
Being a ‘zoonotic’ virus, the flu is transmittable between humans and animals. According to studies, contact with an infected person, whether direct or indirect, can result in human infection. The adoption of any trade, travel, or entrance screening measures connected to MERS-CoV is not advised by the WHO.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia reported the first case of the illness. A WHO report stated that the MERS virus is mostly transferred to humans from infected dromedary camels. “MERS-CoV has been identified in dromedaries in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. In total, 27 countries have reported cases since 2012, leading to 858 known deaths due to the infection and related complications,” the report said.
The dromedary camel or the Arabian camel is a one-humped camel. It is one of the tallest species of camel. It is found mostly in the Middle East.