The ‘football fever’ is at its peak across the world, as FIFA World Cup 2022, one of the greatest worldwide events since the COVID-19 epidemic, is underway in Qatar. The event is expected to draw about 1.2 million spectators from around the globe to the gulf nation, and experts raised concerns that football fans in Qatar may be at risk of catching the “Camel Flu".
According to a study published in the journal New Microbes and New Infections, Camel flu is one of eight potential ‘infection risks’, including Covid and monkeypox, which could crop up during the four-week-long World Cup.
What Is Camel Flu?
Camel flu or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is considered to be a deadlier cousin of Covid. The virus kills up to a third of people who get infected by it, according to World Health Organization (WHO)-backed experts.
MERS was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, which borders Qatar, and since then caused multiple hospital outbreaks in the region.
As per the UK-based science website IFLScience, since 2012, 2,600 cases of MERS, with 935 associated deaths were reported in 27 different countries. Epidemiologic data from Qatar showed the occurrence of 28 cases of MERS (incidence of 1.7 per 1,000,000 population) and most cases had a history of contact with camels.
Advise for Visitors
The study noted that while Qatar had made its health sector ready for such occurrences, continued surveillance was required to stop the transmission of the disease.
“To mitigate the afore-mentioned risks, visitors to the tournament should be up to date with their routine vaccinations and observe the rules for safe consumption of food and drinks,” it said.
As per WHO, people with diabetes, renal failure, chronic lung disease, and immunocompromised persons are at high risk of severe disease from MERS infection.
The experts advised these people to avoid contact with dromedary camels, drink raw camel milk or camel urine, or eat meat that has not been properly cooked.
Symptoms of Camel flu
As per experts, MERS infection range from asymptomatic, to mild symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, and cough, and might also develop into a severe acute respiratory disease that could lead to death.
Pneumonia and gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea, are also common findings in people infected with Camel flu.
As of now, there is no vaccine or specific treatment currently available for camel flu. Treatment of the disease is supportive and based on the patient’s clinical condition.
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