Facts About Camel Coronavirus Infecting Marsabit Residents

  • File image of a herder posing with his camels
    File image of a herder posing with his camels
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  • Marsabit County Public Health Director Dr Adano Kochi on Saturday, August 1, confirmed that a number of residents in the county had tested positive for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV), informally referred to as the Camel Coronavirus.

    Coming at a time when many residents are still coming to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on their lives, the news left many worried even as Kochi stated that all the patients were asymptomatic.

    Kochi further sought to assure the public that they had initiated research to be able to understand the virus better.

    MERS-CoV, or Camel Coronavirus, is a respiratory disease that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

    A road sign leading to Marsabit County
    A road sign leading to Marsabit County
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    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Covid-19.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, meaning that it can be transmitted between animals and human beings.

    Multiple studies have shown humans infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

    While its origins remain unclear to scientists, it is believed that the virus originated in bats before later being transmitted to camels.

    Notably, human-to-human transmission is rare for MERS-CoV, unlike non-human to human transmission through dromedary camels.

    "Human-to-human transmission has been limited to date, and has been identified among family members, patients, and health care workers.

    "While the majority of MERS cases have occurred in healthcare settings, thus far, no sustained human-to-human transmission has been documented anywhere in the world," the WHO notes.

    Consumption of raw and under-cooked milk and meat products provides for a high risk of infection and should be avoided.

    "Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking, or other heat treatments," the WHO explains.

    Those with underlying conditions including diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immuno-compromised persons are advised to avoid contact with camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

    Currently, no vaccine or specific treatment is available for MERS-CoV. A number of vaccines, however, are in the development stage. WHO estimates that 35% of patients with MERS have died.

    File image of cows in Kenya
    File image of cows in Kenya
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