Camel flu threat looms over FIFA World Cup; advisory issued
Football fever has gripped the world with the FIFA World Cup 2022—one of the largest global events—in full swing in Qatar. However, over one million football fans in the Gulf countries are in danger of getting the fatal 'camel flu' virus, also known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Experts have directed authorities to take preventive measures to prevent its spread. Here's more.
Why does this story matter?
- The FIFA World Cup was already fraught with controversy due to the Qatar administration's stringent rules, which included a prohibition of alcohol in stadiums and the wearing of rainbow-themed symbols and clothing.
- The threat of 'camel flu' has created a new quandary for FIFA and Qatari authorities, especially as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
What did experts say?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the deadly camel flu virus is a cousin of the COVID-19 virus, which caused a global pandemic. The world body is concerned that fans in Qatar may be in danger. The problem was also addressed in the journal New Microbes and New Infections in a study titled "Infection dangers associated with the 2022 FIFA World Cup."
What is camel flu?
According to WHO specialists, the camel flu virus is deadlier than the COVID-19 virus because it spreads more quickly. The virus has the potential to kill up to one-third of those who become infected with it. The virus was first detected in Saudi Arabia, which borders Qatar, in 2012, and has subsequently caused other hospital outbreaks across the area.
Incidences of MERS in Gulf region
Since 2012, 2,600 cases of MERS have been confirmed globally, with 935 fatalities, according to the UK-based research website IFLScience. MERS was recorded in almost 28 cases (1.7 per 1,000,000 population) in Qatar, with the majority of people having a history of contact with camels.
Important recommendations by WHO
The report in the journal stressed the need for continual surveillance to prevent disease spread. On the other hand, the WHO said people with co-morbidities like diabetes, renal failure, and lung illness are most vulnerable to MERS infection. It urged these individuals to avoid interaction with dromedary camels and to refrain from consuming camel products.
Common symptoms of the disease
MERS infection, according to specialists, can range from asymptomatic to minor symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, and cough, and it can also progress to severe acute respiratory illness that can lead to death. Pneumonia and gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea are also frequent in camel flu patients. However, there is no vaccination or treatment for camel flu at present.