MERS detected in Marsabit camels

A vet administers drugs to camels. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Camels in Turbi, Bubisa, Burgabo, Yagara and Badhahuri have been diagnosed with the viral respiratory illness.

An outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), normally referred to as MERS, has been reported in camels in Marsabit County.

Camels in Turbi, Bubisa, Burgabo, Yagara in Forole and Badhahuri have been diagnosed with the viral respiratory illness according to County Livestock and Fisheries Chief Officer Dr Wario Sori.

“Even as the world currently battles with the after-shocks of Covid-19, there is also an outbreak of a disease caused in livestock by a virus of the coronavirus family that has been witnessed in this county,” Dr Sori told the Nation.

He noted that people with exposure to camels are highly susceptible to MERS-CoV, a dangerous respiratory virus.

He said the county is collaborating with the Washington State University and CDC to monitor the MERS situation in the county.

“We are working with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how to prevent infections,” Dr Sori said.

Preliminary research have recognised the potential for MERS to spread further and cause havoc to more than 80 percent of the population in the county who rely on livestock as their economic mainstay.

According to the CDC, MERS likely came from an animal source in the Arabian Peninsula. Dromedary camels are thought to be a major host for the virus and a source of MERS infection in humans.

The virus does not pass easily from person to person unless there is close contact, the CDC says.

The disease was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Researchers have found MERS in camels from several countries. Studies have shown that direct contact with camels is a risk factor for human infection with the virus.

CDC Further states that MERS, like other coronaviruses, likely spreads from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing.

Currently, there is no vaccine available to protect against MERS.

Dr Sori called on the national government to swing into action and institute mitigating measures to avert any looming crisis.

Other livestock disease outbreaks that have been reported in the county include the Contagious Caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) -- also known as goat pneumonia -- in Laisamis Sub-county and goat anaemia (anasplasmosis) in Moyale Sub-county.

So far, all cases of MERS across the globe have been linked to travel to, or residence in, countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula.