Via CIDRAP, Robert Roos summarizes a busy day: As MERS cases keep coming, Saudis to test camels. Excerpt from a long report:
In the face of growing evidence that camels may pass MERS-CoV to humans, Saudi Arabian officials announced plans today to test all domestic camels for the virus, according to a media story, and they also reported two more human cases.
In addition, news reports quoted officials in Qatar as saying they found signs of MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) in the milk of infected camels, supporting the suspicion that camel milk might provide a pathway for the virus to infect people.
Also today, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the Saudi disclosure this week of scores of earlier, previously unreported MERS cases and deaths does not change the basic pattern of the outbreak or the ECDC's risk assessment.
Camel testing plan
Saudi Agriculture Minister Fahd Balghuneim said the ministry has begun testing camels for MERS-CoV and next week will start testing "all livestock" in the country for the virus, according to an Arab News story today.
Speaking at a recent workshop in Riyadh on registering livestock, he also said the Saudi Wildlife Authority would test wild animals in nature reserves to determine the prevalence of the virus, the story said.
Balghuneim also noted that imported camels are tested for diseases on arrival in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.
Previous news stories have described Saudi camel owners, workers, and even veterinarians as denying or being unaware of any link between MERS-CoV in camels and humans.
Evidence for such a link increased yesterday with a report that a Saudi man who died of MERS-CoV last November might have been infected by the camels he owned. A MERS-CoV isolate from one of the camels matched the strain in the patient.