With more than a million people gathering in Qatar for FIFA World Cup 2022, experts have warned that football fans in Qatar may be at risk of catching the “Camel Flu” or “Middle East respiratory syndrome”. World Health Organisation experts were reported to have raised an alarm against Camel Flu and warned that FIFA World Cup may attract Camel flu.
Camel flu was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The flu is listed as one of eight potential ‘infection risks’, including Covid and monkeypox, which could crop up during the four-week long World Cup.
In a study published in the journal ‘New Microbes and New Infections’, researchers listed Camel flu as an infection risk during the four-week-long FIFA sporting event. In the study, the authors said that mass gatherings pose a threat of potential infectious disease spreading rapidly. Considered to be a deadlier cousin of the COVID virus, Camel flu has affected dozens in Qatar over the last decade. The virus kills up to a third of everyone who gets infected.
KEY FACTS ABOUT CAMEL FLU
According to World Health Organisation,
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
- Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
- Typical MERS symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Pneumonia is common, but MERS patients may not always develop this condition. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported among MERS patients.
- Approximately 35% of MERS cases reported to WHO have died.
- MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, meaning it is transmitted between animals and people. MERS-CoV has been identified and linked to human infections in dromedary camels in several Member States in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
- Human-to-human transmission is possible and has occurred predominantly among close contacts and in health care settings. Outside the health care setting, there has been limited human-to-human transmission.
- fever, cough and shortness of breath.
- Pneumonia is a common finding, but MERS patients may not always develop this condition.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, have also been reported.
- Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation or support in an intensive care unit.
- Older people, people with weakened immune systems, and those with chronic diseases such as renal disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes appear to be at greater risk of developing severe disease.
Approximately 35% of cases reported to WHO have died, but this may be an overestimate of the true mortality rate, as mild cases of MERS may be missed by existing surveillance systems.
Since the identification of MERS-CoV in 2012, 27 Member States have reported cases of MERS to WHO under the International Health Regulations (2005): Algeria, Austria, Bahrain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Islamic Republic of Iran, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia, Türkiye, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Yemen
MERS-CoV is a zoonotic virus, which means that is transmitted between animals and people. Studies have shown that humans are infected through direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels, although the exact route of transmission remains unclear. MERS-CoV has been identified in dromedary camels in several States in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Human-to-human transmission is possible and has occurred predominantly among close contacts and in health care settings. This includes family and household members, health care workers and other patients. The largest outbreaks have occurred in health care facilities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Korea. Outside the health care setting, there has been no sustained human-to-human transmission documented anywhere in the world.
Approximately 80% of human cases have been reported by Saudi Arabia, largely as a result of direct or indirect contact with infected dromedary camels or infected individuals in health care facilities. Cases identified outside the Middle East are usually individuals who appear to have been infected in the Middle East and then travelled to areas outside the region. To date, a limited number of outbreaks have occurred outside the Middle East
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
No vaccine or specific treatment are currently available. In the absence of MERS-specific therapeutics, treatment of MERS patients is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.
As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns, or other places where dromedary camels and other animals are present should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and should avoid contact with sick animals.
The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products, including milk and meat, carries a high risk of infection from a variety of pathogens that may cause disease in humans. Animal products that are processed appropriately through cooking or pasteurization are safe for consumption, but should also be handled with care to avoid cross contamination with uncooked foods. Camel meat and camel milk are nutritious products that can continue to be consumed after pasteurization, cooking, or other heat treatments.
Individuals at greater risk of developing severe disease should avoid contact with dromedary camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked