Dubai: It is essential to find out how the Mers coronavirus was transmitted from animals to humans, a specialist in infectious diseases said.
“When an infectious disease jumps from animals to humans it is called a zoonosis. In a zoonotic disease like Mers coronavirus, it is mandatory to find out the reservoir of the virus causing a disease in humans,” said Dr Ram Shukla, specialist infectious diseases at Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah.
“The transmission can be by either directly coming into contact with the infected animal or its secretions or stool,” said the doctor.
Scientists said evidence is mounting that camels are the most likely intermediary in the transmission from bats to humans. But the virus itself has not been found in a camel yet, though antibodies against the virus have been discovered in the blood of camels in Sudan, Egypt, Oman and the Canary Islands.
The scientists say that this means the animals carried the infection with the Mers virus and may have shown symptoms.
According to a Saudi report a 38-year-old man from Batin, Saudi Arabia, who died of “bacterial pneumonia”, was a camel dealer with an obviously sick camel. Other members of his family, including a mother, daughter and cousin, fell ill with what was diagnosed as Mers, and two of them died. A number of cases of people dying from Mers have been reported by the World Health Organisation.
Closer to home a 73-year-old man from Abu Dhabi fell ill shortly after contact with a sick racing camel in his stable.
He was flown to Germany for treatment, but later died. It was also found that the brother of the deceased had fallen ill after contact with the camel.
A doctor in Abu Dhabi said although it has not yet been confirmed that Mers originates from camels, it is advisable that people dealing with all animals take precautions.
“It spreads from humans to humans, so people should be careful and keep away from those infected people,” said Dr Santhosh Kumar, a pulmonologist at Ahalia Hospital.