The Middle East respiratory syndrome affects many animals and humans but luckily scientists discovered MERS vaccine is effective in camels.
We like to think that we are completely different from our fellow animals, but in fact we have many things in common. Even if we don’t look, don’t think and don’t communicate in the same way, it so happens that we’re usually affected by the same things, because after all, we do live on the same planet and in the same environment and very often eat the same food.
MERS, camels and humans
Most importantly, we often share the same diseases or viruses. For example, in the case of MERS, according to health scientists, camels are the primary host for this virus. When a human comes in contact with a camel, which by the way, in the Middle East tends to happen quite often, they could catch the virus.
According to the World Health Organization the disease emerged in 2012 and since then 1,600 cases were reported in 26 countries. From the total number of cases, for almost 600 people MERS proved to be fatal.
A study showed that more than half of the camels in Saudi Arabia are infected with the virus. Just as humans, camels also develop upper respiratory problems. Researchers tried to see if vaccinating the camels would reduce the risk of the virus being transmitted to humans.
How the study was conducted
For the study, the researchers used eight camels. Four of them received the vaccine, while the other four received a placebo. The vaccine was given using a nasal spray. After three weeks, all eight camels were given the virus. About ten days later, the camels which weren’t vaccinated started showing symptoms of the disease, while the other camels were healthy. Although the virus still existed in the camels’ respiratory system, the levels were extremely low, compared to the ones in the infected camels.
Scientists say that this vaccine can also protect camels from another virus known for causing camelpox, which as the name suggests is the equivalent of human smallpox, but can be deadly to the animals.
Although it’s difficult to say if the same vaccine could be effective on humans, the findings are still very helpful as they can stop the disease from spreading among camels and further to humans, so the level of risk is definitely reduced.
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