A 70-year-old Saudi man died on Thursday from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), through an infected camel, and a 56-year-old is critically ill from the virus in Buraidah.
During March, a high incidence of MERS cases, including deaths, were reported in Buraidah by the Ministry of Health.
The total number of MERS cases since June 2012 has reached 1,362 which include 582 deaths and 13 patients currently taking treatment at various hospitals in the Kingdom.
Three major hospitals in Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah have been designated as centers of excellence to treat MERS patients. In addition to these facilities, the ministry has assigned 20 more well-equipped hospitals in all health regions to look after MERS patients.
In December, the ministry tested 160 camels in Jeddah and found 50 of the juvenile camels were found to be carrying the virus.
The Ministry of Health continues to issue warning to stay away from camels. Those who are working on farms have been advised to take maximum precautions against the virus by wearing face masks, isolating infected animals and following the basic principles of hygiene.
According to the World Health Organization, studies have found MERS-CoV antibodies in camels across Africa and the Middle East.
Human and camel genetic sequence data demonstrate a close link between the virus found in camels and that found in people.
As a general precaution, anyone visiting farms, markets, barns or other places where animals are present, should practice general hygiene measures, including regular hand washing before and after touching animals, and 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 organisms that might cause disease in humans. Animal products 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 treatment.
By Mohammed Rasooldeen
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