No Connection between US Camels and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome)
MERS UPDATE 7-10-2015
There are no cases of MERS in US camel herds.
Camel importation is also restricted by US federal agencies, which further protects US herds. While MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) has made an appearance in South Korea, the first, or index, patient had traveled from the Middle East. All reported MERS cases have been linked to this region. A second patient contracted it from the first, and infected others prior to proper identification. Korea and the World Health Organization (WHO) now have a joint project to manage MERS. Current WHO data and other factors indicate no evidence of airborne transmission or sustained transmission in communities.
The risk to the overall population remains very low. New awareness of symptoms by medical personnel, plus travelers’ timely reporting (within 14 days) of contact with bats or camels in the Arabian Peninsula, will help it remain low.
MERS is a flu-like illness with symptoms similar to pneumonia, although some people develop mild cases or never become ill. With proper identification the mortality rate appears to be dropping.
There are no cases of MERS in US camels or camel milk. While it appears that some Middle Eastern camels may have had antibodies to MERS for a long while, the main hosts of the virus are suspected to be bats although there is no confirmed MERS source yet. Close contact with camels in the Middle East is discouraged at this time. There is no definitive link between camel milk and MERS transmission to humans at this time. People in Middle Eastern countries are still safely consuming camel milk. No US customers have reported problems.
MERS is most likely to affect humans with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart conditions, elderly people, and those undergoing cancer treatments or organ transplants.
Recent travelers to the Middle East are asked to refrain from visiting all camel farms and The Camel Milk Association for 90 days. We take all proper precautions to prevent diseases like MERS from ever affecting American herds. We are committed to keeping you informed on MERS, even though it is largely irrelevant to US camels.
MERS UPDATE 7-28-14
More Good news!
There is no evidence of the MERS coronavirus in United States camels or camel milk, according to researchers. MERS antibodies have been found in some Middle Eastern camels, but not in US camels. While it appears that some Middle Eastern camels may have had antibodies to MERS for a very long while, there is no definitive link between camel milk and MERS transmission to humans at this time. People in those countries are still safely consuming camel milk.
Coronaviruses may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. Viruses in this family include the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which may affect people differently, ranging from individuals who never become ill to those with a fatal outcome. No source for the MERS-CoV virus has yet been identified. While it appears that Middle Eastern camels may at times harbor the MERS virus, the initial sources and methods of transmission are still unknown.”
Illness usually occurs within 14 days. Recent travelers to the Middle East are asked to refrain from visiting all camel farms in the USA and The Camel Milk Association for 90 days. We take all proper precautions to prevent diseases like MERS from ever affecting American herds.
MERS-CoV is still not well understood and information will continue to emerge from further studies. We are committed to keeping you updated.
What you need to know:
According to the US Centers for Disease Control, MERS is a viral respiratory illness spread from infected patients to others in close contact. The origin of MERS is not known, but antibodies to the disease have been found in some camels in Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and in a bat in Saudi Arabia.
There are no cases of camels in the US with MERS and no evidence of the virus in US camels. Most US camels come from Australian stock and there has been no importation of camels from countries currently at risk of MERS. It is safe to have contact with camels in the US.
The CDC says the general public is not at risk unless one has been in close contact or been living with someone who is being evaluated for MERS infection. The only known US cases so far are found in health workers who recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and the CDC is tracking people who had contact with these travelers. The CDC doesn’t recommend changing travel plans because of MERS, but does remind travelers to use standard health and hygiene practices like washing hands and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, so far MERS has not been detected in milk samples taken in the Middle East, nor is there any evidence that milk can infect people.
As a precaution, some US camel dairies are temporarily restricting visitors who have recently visited the Middle East or Africa in order to protect their healthy herds.
Source: Camel Alliance USA
Camel Alliance USA is a group of US camel industry professionals and advocates. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camel Milk Association has proactively placed visiting restriction on anybody that has recently traveled to the regions affected by MERS-CoV.
Camel Milk Association is now committed to maintaining a closed herd out of abundance of caution.
Read more about cases that have appeared in the United States at the following links: