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Kenya’s New Trade Under Threat

In Kenya, camels are a very popular animal to keep as livestock. There’s value in their meat and milkproducts and as a result, there are now over three million camels in the country. But there is a danger that the people who come into contact with camels, and their products, face getting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). MERS is a disease in people caused by a coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which was first identified in Saudia Arabia in 2012. The disease spread to several Middle Eastern, North African and European countries. MERS has since been reported in 27 countries, with almost 2500 cases and almost 900 deaths. 80% of the recorded human cases have been in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Handling camels is considered a high risk activity: in Saudi Arabia up to 67% of camel handlers have been exposed. MERS-CoV likely emerged from bats and found a comfortable home in dromedary camels. Camels are now thought to be the main reservoir of MERS-CoV infection to humans.