Doha - Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013
The Supreme Council of Health and the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health and Environment (RIVM) of the Ministry of Health and the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands announced confirmation of the first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 3 camels in a herd in Qatar in a barn, which is linked to two confirmed human cases who have since then recovered.
For transparency purposes, we can confirm that the 3 camels were investigated among a herd of 14 camels, and the samples were collected as part of the epidemiological investigation in coordination between the Public Health Department and the Department of Animal Resources. It is to be noted that none of the 14 camels showed any sign of disease when the samples were collected. As a precautionary measure, the 14 camels were put in quarantine since the initial sampling and after 40 days as of now, none have shown any symptom or sign of the disease.
For information, the presence of the MERS-CoV is newly recognized among animals, and currently there is neither clear scientific case definition nor enough information as to the role animals may play in transmitting and spreading the diseases.
All contacts of the two recovered MERS-CoV cases, including relatives, friends and workers in the same barn have been screened with negative results. The two Departments are following up with the reference laboratory and Erasmus Medical Centre to test additional samples from other animal species and from the environment of the barn. The joint team of the Supreme Council of Health and the Department of Animal Resources is continuously monitoring the development of this disease and taking all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
This discovery came as a result of the collaborative efforts between the two ministries, and the RIVM laboratory and Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands, together with the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently the two Departments are conducting a national survey to investigate the presence of virus in animals, humans and the environment, and the potential modes of transmission and exposure to the virus among humans who are in close contacts with animals. Until more information is available, it is recommended, that as a precautionary measure, any animals that have been in close contact with newly detected human MERS-CoV cases are separated for investigation of the presence of infection with the virus.
It is also recommended that people with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory disease, the immunosuppressed, and the elderly, avoid any close animal contacts when visiting farms and markets, and to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands