16 Jan 2014

There is increasing evidence of a possible role of dromedary camels in the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak with antibodies indicating past infection in a large number of camels unrelated to any human cases, including in samples taken in 2003.

In Qatar in 2013, 3 out of 14 camels in a herd with which two cases had contact tested positive by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

As of 3 January 2014, the WHO had received reports of 177 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV. Most confirmed cases have been in residents of Saudi Arabia or in people who have travelled there (144 cases). Seventy four cases have died, and the case fatality rate is 42%. As of 3 January 2013, at least 53% of confirmed cases had underlying conditions (in some cases multiple underlying conditions) that may have made them more susceptible.

See Department of Health for more information.

Image by ActiveSteve on Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence