Cairo: Voices have raised in Saudi Arabia calling on authorities to strictly control increasing numbers of baboons in some areas as the alarm bell is sounded around the globe for an outbreak of monkeypox.
Nearly 20 countries mostly in Europe have reported confirmed or suspected cases of the viral disease.
Saudi newspaper Okaz has quoted Saudi citizens as urging tighter control on sites where baboons can be seen as in the western governorate of Taif and a road leading to the city of Mecca.
They have mainly blamed proliferation of the species on motorists and tourists who stop to provide food to baboons and record their visits to such sites.
The Saudi media has recently reported baboon attacks on residential areas.
“Tightening precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease [monkeypox] requires monitoring round the clock by the agencies concerned to prevent offering food to the baboons,” the complainants said.
They stressed the importance of devising public awareness programmes to highlight health hazards posed by the baboons especially amid an outbreak of monkeypox.
The Saudi National Centre for Wildlife launched three months ago a programme to assess harms resulting
from proliferation of baboons in areas in west and south of the kingdom with the aim of
finding “appropriate” solutions to limit environmental, health, social and economic repercussions, according to spokesman for the governmental agency Mohammed Al Yami.
“Whether baboons are linked or not to monkeypox is an issue up to the Health Ministry to say,” he said.
Earlier this week, the ministry said no case of smallpox has been recorded so far in Saudi Arabia and confirmed readiness to tackle any such cases.
The infectious disease can be passed through close person-to-person contact or contact with items used by an infected person, such as clothes, according to health experts.