Image Credit: A Saudi farmer kisses a young she-camel - Credit: Al Sharq
Although it has been a bit slow in coming, the acceptance that there is a strong connection between exposure to camels and contracting the MERS coronavirus seems to have finally taken hold in Saudi Arabia. Six months ago the Ministry of Agriculture was in full denial (see Saudi MOA Spokesman: Camel Link Unproven), and camel kissing briefly surged as an act of defiance.
For many Saudis, the idea that camels – a beloved national symbol that literally made settlement of that arid region possible – could carry a disease deadly to humans, is simply unthinkable. A concept made even harder to accept due to the widespread belief in the healthful effects of camel’s milk and urine in the treatment of disease.
In the face of mounting evidence, finally last May the Saudi Ministry Of Agriculture Issued Warnings On Camels, urging breeders and owners to limit their contact with camels, and to use PPEs (masks, gloves, protective clothing) when in close contact with their animals.
Since then we’ve seen a steady stream of new information implicating camels as an intermediate host for the virus, and a likely conduit to the human population.
Although the number of MERS cases has dwindled over the summer, yesterday two new cases were reported, and with the Hajj just three weeks away, the Ministry of Health apparently feels it is time for a reminder. Today they have posted a notice on the Saudi MOH site, their Facebook page, and on twitter.
Translation of KSA MOH Tweet
A hat tip goes to Sharon Sanders on FluTrackers for the following link. For those unused to these machine translations: Apple=camel and muzzle and/or gag curtain=face mask.
18 October 1435
Renewed Health Ministry warning to all citizens and residents to take necessary precautions in dealing with Apple. The Ministry showed that despite the decline in disease and thankfully, the expected individual cases of disease caused by direct exposure to secretions of camels without wearing a muzzle and gloves and cover the body. The Ministry said that these individual cases may be a source of transmission of the virus to others health workers at hospitals or close contacts at home.
The Ministry showed that research conducted by scholars of the Saudis last November proved without doubt the role of camels to transport human coronavirus to which scientific studies have shown the presence of the virus in the mucus and saliva of camels particularly affected by symptoms such as runny nose and fever. The Medical Council has issued an advisory of the Ministry of health warnings and stressed the need for taking precautions within the camel barns during direct dealing with, as well as within the slaughterhouses. These precautions include wearing protective gloves and gag curtain of flesh. And calls upon the Ministry of health of the citizens and residents of the need to follow those precautions and not lax in maintaining their health and the health of those around them.