FIFA World Cup 2022: Camel flu is the new risk for fans in Qatar, claim reports

Camel flu or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is the new risk for world cup fans in Qatar, reports have claimed. The ongoing FIFA World Cup is expected to attract millions of fans. The event will be held till December 18.

A study published in the New Microbes and New Infections journal has shed light on this. The paper titled “Infection risks associated with the 2022 FIFA world cup in Qatar” was published on November 22.

Qatar is expected to witness huge influx of football fans
A footfall of 1.2 million is expected in Qatar for the ongoing FIFA world cup which is scheduled till mid-December this year.

“The FIFA World Cup 2022 will be hosted at the time when two Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC) are concurrent. These are the COVID-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak 2022. With respect to COVID-19, the number of the cases in Qatar continued to be reported at an average of 321 daily cases in November 2022,” the report says and has cited the example of the Pyeong Ghang Winter Olympics in South Korea, where respiratory tract illnesses were the most common cause of illness.

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MERS is being seen as a bigger threat
Apart COVID, the report stresses on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Several health experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) sees MERS having the potential to cause a pandemic.

The MERS virus is transferred to humans from infected dromedary camels. “MERS-CoV has been identified in dromedaries in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. In total, 27 countries have reported cases since 2012, leading to 858 known deaths due to the infection and related complications,” a WHO report says.

“Epidemiologic data from Qatar showed the occurrence of of 28 cases of MERS (incidence of 1.7 per 1,000,000 population) and most cases had a history of contact with camels,” the research report says and adds that people with greater risk should avoid contact with dromedary camels, drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating meat that has not been properly cooked.

Dromedary camel or the Arabian camel is a one-humped camel. It is one of the tallest species of the camels. It is found mostly in the Middle East.

Symptoms of camel flu
MERS symptoms range from being asymptomatic or mild respiratory symptoms to severe acute respiratory disease and death.

Typical symptoms of MERS are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Sometimes patients show gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea.

The disease can also get severe. “Severe illness can cause respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and support in an intensive care unit. The virus appears to cause more severe disease in older people, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic diseases such as renal disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes,” the WHO says.

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