Doha: Football fans returning from Qatar have been advised by health experts to beware of signs of camel flu, a deadly respiratory disease that causes fever, coughing and vomiting.
The fans at the FIFA World Cup are at risk of viral respiratory infections including COVID-19 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) infection, also known as camel flu.
The football World Cup will be held until December 18 and the number of sports fans visiting the country is increasing rapidly. This has been highlighted by a study published in the journal New Microbes and New Infections, titled ‘Risk of infection at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar’.
It is possible to contract the camel virus through close contact with camels, or from consuming camel products, such as unpasteurized milk.
Other risks also include close contact with an infected person, as many eager fans are said to have enjoyed riding camels in Qatar.
The health authorities in Britain announced a state of alert in anticipation of the appearance of camel flu, among the fans of the England football team accompanying it in the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
An advisory posted on the Australian health ministry’s website says that fans returning from Qatar should be aware of MERS, and asked people to reduce the risk of contracting the infection by “observing good hygiene practices, avoiding close contacts with camels and avoiding consuming uncooked meat or unpasteurised milk”.
Nearly 1,000 people have died from camel flu – in recent years. It is feared that the death toll will rise due to the huge number of fans who flocked to Qatar and who may have been exposed to camels.
MERS is more deadly than COVID-19
The disease was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and since then, 2,600 cases have been reported in 27 countries, most of them in the Arabian Peninsula, according to WHO reports.
MERS is much more deadly than COVID-19, because more than a third of people who contract it die, compared to less than 4 percent of people with COVID-19.
Symptoms of camel flu include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment available, but it is being developed.
Who is more at risk of camel flu?
Generally, people suffering from a weak immune system, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases are at higher risk.