#NewsBytesExplainer: What is Camel Flu, the viral scare during FIFA 2022?
November 28, 2022, 2:38 p.m
4 minutes to read
Experts warn against a deadly virus coming from Qatar!
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, one of the most coveted international events, has attracted more people from all over the world to participate live.
However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), football fans in Qatar may be at high risk of contracting Camel Flu. The WHO labeled it “deadlier than COVID-19”.
Camel flu is also called “Middle East respiratory syndrome”.
According to WHO experts, Camel flu belongs to the same family of viruses as COVID-19.
Also called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), this infection has affected dozens of people in Qatar in recent decades, killing about a third of the affected population.
It is spreading rapidly and has been included among the eight potential infectious outbreaks during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Beware of these diseases if you visit Qatar
WHO-backed experts have warned football fans to guard against more than eight diseases, including MERS, COVID-19, monkeypox, measles, traveller’s diarrhoea, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and vector-borne diseases (such as cutaneous leishmaniasis , malaria, dengue, rabies).
Experts identify dromedary camels as the spreaders of this disease
According to the WHO team, Camel flu could be transferred to humans from infected dromedary camels or one-humped camels.
Such dromedary-based MERS cases have been detected in a multitude of countries in regions including the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Experts suggest avoiding contact with dromedary camels and avoiding consumption of raw camel milk, camel urine and uncooked camel meat.
Symptoms similar to COVID-19; can kill if left untreated
Camel flu or MERS is a respiratory condition that can cause death if not treated early.
It causes symptoms such as fever, cough, chills, body aches and difficulty breathing, which are quite similar to those of the new coronavirus.
In addition, it can affect the gastrointestinal system, causing diarrhea and stomach pain.
Although rare, this disease can also cause pneumonia.
Those with chronic illnesses are at greater risk
According to reports, older adults, people with weak immune systems or those dealing with chronic conditions such as cancer, lung disease, cardiovascular problems and diabetes are at high risk of contracting this fatal virus.
It can spread between humans and animals
MERS can transfer from humans to animals and vice versa due to its fast-spreading and fatal nature.
The first case of this disease appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012, slowly reaching other countries in the Middle East.
With a fatality rate of 35%, since 2012 there have been 858 MERS-induced deaths in 27 countries.
No treatment at this time; vaccines are in preparation
Contact with a person infected with MERS, either directly or indirectly, can also lead to human-to-human infection.
At this time, there is absolutely no treatment available to treat Camel flu. However, reports suggest that the process of developing its vaccine is ongoing.
Although there are medications that can help relieve symptoms, medical professionals have yet to come up with anything more substantial.
WHO calls Camel Flu a potential future pandemic
Because of its fast-spreading nature and the fact that no treatment is available, the WHO research team named Camel flu as one of the viruses with the potential to start a future pandemic.
And with millions attending the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar could be a breeding ground for this fatal disease, which is highly likely to spread during the four-week tournament.
Players, fans, locals and tourists are at high risk
Camel rides and safari holidays are heavily promoted by travel and tourism companies in Qatar.
The mammoth gatherings in Qatar due to the 2022 FIFA World Cup inevitably put players, fans, locals, tourists at high risk of contracting Camel Flu.
Reports indicate that healthcare in Qatar is prepared to deal with MERS cases, but needs continued surveillance to reduce transmission.