Blaming Dromedary Camel For MERS

Is MERS Really Transmitting by Dromedary Camel?

is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is really transmitting from Camel? This is the burning question of the day. An article published in a local newspaper regarding the presence of MERS-CoV in camel nasal discharge.Abu Dhabi study links camel farms to spread of Mers virus


The group of Camels in Australia…Photo credit to Hannah Purs


Here is the Scientific Response to the 8th August Article in The National
“According to the scientific studies; the MERS-CoV is present in the almost majority of the camels in Africa and the Middle East. We do not know about the South Asian camels yet; as there is no study up to date.
MERS-CoV is found in Bat and camel both as both animals are the reservoirs for it. One Chinese study revealed that it is found in the Bat only. According to Bernard Faye, in his camel farm in KSA, all the camels were MERS-CoV positive but there was no sign of Virus transmission into the workers also no camel showed sign of infection in the 3 years period of time. Many other colleagues (camel owners, farmers, workers and more) told that they have not noticed any such infection.

According to a very reputable research study conducted by Wernery et al (the scientific director of the central veterinary lab of Dubai) Priv. Doz. Dr. Dr. habil. U. Wernery Scientific Director, CVRL, the virus is rarely transmitted from camel to human. Only there is very little chance of transmission for those who are already very weak and sick facing immuno-depression.
It does not affect the camel health either. Only nasal discharge can be noticed in the newborn calves. The virus is found in nasal discharge and transmitted via nasal way,  therefore studies conducted used nasal swab as the source of the virus.

The camel products, especially the milk and meat are 100% safe as this virus has no viability below 4C and above 20C. Also, the virus is not discharging in milk and meat. There is no reason to consider that camel milk or meat could be a way of contamination as the virus is excreted only by the respiratory way.

The Other Side of Mirror

Actually, when I read much more articles from the general press of the last few years. It looks like a political/business motive to terrify the people at the occasion of Islamic ritual of Hajj in Saudi (millions of people attend) and to sell vaccine in future. In business, there is no rule at all.

The Main Message: So there are no worries, do not avoid camel products. Please use camel milk as before.


Author: Dr Raziq Kakar

I’m Dr. Abdul Raziq Kakar, Ph.D. in Animal Agriculture, currently working as a Technical Manager at Al Ain Farms for Livestock Production, Camel Dairying (R&D), Alain, UAE. I have performed as a Professor and Dean, at the Faculty of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences Pakistan (LUAWMS). My thematic area covers ‘turning camel from a beast of burden to a sustainable farm animal’, agricultural research policies, extensive livestock production systems, desert ecosystems, food security under climate change context, and sustainable use of traditional genetic resources for food and agriculture. I'am advocating camel under the theme of CAMEL4LIFE and believe in camel potential. Camel4life is a camel think tank with a website and WhatsApp group, advocating camel at the policy level. I'm the founder of World Camel Day and the Camel Association of Pakistan. I also work as a freelance scientist covering the above-mentioned thematic areas. I'm also doing camel dairying consultancies. I’m an ethnoecologist, ethnobotanist, Ethnovet, and ethnomedicine researcher and reviewer. I explore deserts and grazing lands for knowledge and understanding.

11 thoughts on “Blaming Dromedary Camel For MERS”

  1. Reply by Debbie Crump Australia:
    This ” blame game” is typical of the type of ” leaks” let out when the mass corporations feel threatened. If Camel, buffalo, sheep and goat milk continue to grow in popularity the massive global “cow factories” will be out of business. Making a health scare or scare mongering is a dirty tactic used by corporates when they feel threatened.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is the comments published in a English newspapers before regarding the MERS CoV
    “The camel milk and camel milk products that go to the public are pasteurised, and any virus, including the coronavirus dies off — that is a scientific fact — at 56 degrees Celsius. Pasteurisation happens at a much higher temperature.”

    Pasteurisation occurs between temperatures of about 63 and 75 degrees Celsius. “The public is concerned now that there is an insecurity from consuming products from the camel, which is absolutely not valid. Everything is safe, especially from the market here.” Dr Ulli Wernery said the presence of Mers antibodies in camels could even be a good thing.
    “People have confused the antibodies which have been found in the camels with the virus but the virus has not been found in camels. Camels developed antibodies against the virus which protect them from the disease, it’s very harmless, it’s good even — (the camels are) protected from the virus.”

    It was not clear how or when camels had come into contact with the Mers coronavirus, though one theory suggested the link had come from bats “but maybe it comes from rats or mice in the desert, who knows?”. “(Camels) have connected to the virus some point during their lives, but we don’t know when — it could be 10 years ago,” Dr Ulli Wernery said. And if camel populations were really hosting the virus, the Wernerys should know about it — the avid camel milk fans, who drink the milk daily, work closely with a large population of camels. “I have done more than 1,000 (post mortems) on camels and I’m still very fit. I really come into contact very closely and nothing has happened…I’m not worried at all,” Dr Ulli Wernery said.

    Renate Wernery said camels had “very aggressive, robust” immune systems, which meant they had antibodies to many diseases — sometimes diseases that had never even manifested. However, talk of where the highly contagious virus started and how it had transmitted to humans was “speculation”. “Nobody knows yet where the source of the virus is, but CVRL is of course interested to solve the whole mystery. We will keep working with international researchers, this is our duty as scientists…we have to find out more about it, but nobody should be afraid at the moment to use camel products.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A comment, I received via direct message from Twitter by Ali Zohaib @@viro_doc
    Dear Sir
    I agree with your comments regarding MERS. Recently, I conducted a countrywide study in Pakistan and found camels positive but none of the humans was positive. There are some reports that MERS from KSA is different than that of Africa or maybe in Pakistan (yet to prove for Pakistan).
    A recent study from Pakistan also indicates a high prevalence of MERS-CoV in camel population of Pakistan (39.5%). However, till to date no case of MERS-CoV has been reported from Pakistan, despite the similar level of risk as of Saudi Arabia. It could be explained as virus circulating in Pakistan may be different from that of Saudi Arabia, however, it needs molecular proof. A recent study in PNAS indicates that virus circulating in Africa is quite different from that of Gulf and that could give us a notion of the reduced zoonotic potential of MERS-CoV in Africa. However, a countrywide study from Saudi Arabia finds only 15 persons (out of 10,000 sampled) having antibodies for MERS-CoV, a mere 0.15%. Our knowledge of MERS-CoV indicates the old and immunocompromised population is at increased risk of MERS-CoV infection.


  4. Fredric Camel Milk: I fight people who blame camels on twitter: I tell them camels are no more a virus reservoir than cows and pork and even alfalfa (with its salmonella, E.coli…)


  5. Dr. Raziq…I cannot deny the presence of MERS virus in dromedary camels, there are many scientific findings. Also, I know the reason behind to push to have such studies very suddenly. In some farms of KSA, 100% camels were found being the reservoir of the MERS, but none of the workers were infected. The camel is a natural reservoir like a bat and other animals. Blaming camels for spreading is very unjust. Only the old, immune-compromised, heart disease patients, diabetic, respiratory infectious people were affected by the MERS virus and the same is for the COVID 19 as I shared the graph made by BBC. We should not deny the reality for the sack of camels but we should not be the tool of media outlets propaganda.


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