Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Postcards From The MERS Twitterverse


# 9748


Between the rising case counts of the past couple of weeks, yesterday’s WHO Mission statement which cited critical lapses in our understanding of how the MERS coronavirus transmits, a new report that suggests 90% of camels in the region may be infected, and a new statement by the Saudi MOH on diagnosing the virus – Arabic twitter traffic  (hashtag  كورونا  aka `Corona’) is really humming this morning.

I’m currently seeing 30 to 40 tweets a minute, with the camel story making up the bulk of the activity. 


While zoonotic transmission of the coronavirus has been suspected for at least 18 months (see Aug 2013’s  Lancet: Camels Found With Antibodies To MERS-CoV-Like Virus), and the evidence has mounted since then (see CIDRAP: More Evidence for Camel-to-Human MERS-CoV Transmission), the general public has been slow to accept the idea that the beloved symbol of their nation could harbor a deadly disease.


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.

Despite the increased warnings (see 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, we continue to see occasional stories in the Saudi Press `exonerating camels’ as a source of the disease.

All of which makes today’s report, claiming that Saudi Health: 90% of Ebel Gulf infected with Corona a major twitter topic.   Note : `Ebel’, `Apple’, and `Beauty’ are all common translations from the Arabic for `camel’.



WASHINGTON: US Undersecretary of the Saudi Ministry of Health for Preventive Health Dr. Abdullah Asiri "that 90% of Ebel Gulf countries infected with Corona."

He pointed out that 50% of the beauty in Al-Ahsa region east of the kingdom carrying "Corona" in the respiratory secretions, stressing that the person who infected mixer beauty colds, exhibition of transmitting the virus to a family member without showing symptoms

(Continue . . . )

Despite the growing body of evidence, the recent PSA videos from the MOH (see below), and continued warnings to avoid contact and to wear PPEs around `beauty’,  public acceptance of the notion remains slow in coming.


Also trending are comments about, and links to, a statement posted by the Saudi MOH today on laboratory testing, and the need for isolation of, MERS cases.





D.nsrin Sherbini: symptoms of respiratory viruses and virus (Corona) are similar

05 May 1436

Advisory infectious diseases and epidemics, Dr. Nasrin Sherbini confirmed that the only way to make sure the infection (Corona) is through a laboratory test, and that there are no symptoms that can differentiate between respiratory viruses such as influenza virus (Corona); all of them are similar.

She added that the virus (Corona) is transmitted through droplets of a cough or sneeze of an infected for Mkhaltin person has a direct and close to, or touch the membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth after touching places them spray the patient; therefore must contacts monitoring after the patient isolate them, and hasten the detection and screening at the emergence of symptoms such as high fever or symptoms of flu or pneumonia Kdik of breath and chest pain and the like.

This came during the hosting of the National Center for Media and Health Education of the Ministry of Health within the activities of the awareness campaign to introduce the virus (Corona) that causes respiratory syndrome Middle East (MERS.COV).

She noted that many studies supports that beauty is one of the sources (Corona), and that the transmission of the virus is through the respiratory tract, the spray camels and their secretions often and not by drinking milk, but preferably limited to drinking milk and dairy products, pasteurized only, and when having to drink milk directly from the camels and other livestock must be well boiled. They must take the necessary contacts of a camel wearing protective face precautions (nose and eyes), especially when approaching them directly and exposure to secretions and Rmazha or righteousness.

Attributed the high rate of infection among people with chronic diseases in cases recorded since the emergence of the virus to the general health situation of people with chronic diseases and weak immunity; making them more susceptible to infection than others.

It is worth mentioning that the National Center for Media and health education will continue to host a group of doctors and specialists from all health sectors until 06/05/1436 AH, via toll-free telephone Center 8,002,494,444 and the calculation of the ministry on Twitter saudimoh;  to respond to queries from callers and answer their questions about HIV (Corona ), where it will be on Wednesday hosted d. Future newborn, consultant infectious diseases, from 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm


While much of the Arabic twitter traffic appears `coordinated’  (tons of re-tweets of `official’ messages, or `safe’ news stories) occasionally accusatory tweets show up, such as the pair below laying blame on the previous MOH.



After seeing big declines in twitter traffic regarding MERS in the last half of 2014, the past few days have seen a sizable reawakening of public interest.


A trend that is likely to only increase as the expected spring wave accelerates over the next several months.

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