Dubai’s Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) is working on creating a vaccine to combat coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to a report in The National.
Camels are believed to be the carriers of this virus.
Coronavirus has infected more than 1,750 people, more than 700 of which have died, according to the International Society for Infectious Diseases.
Most cases are coming out of Saudi Arabia and the UAE where camels are widely popular and come in close contact with individuals.
“You wouldn’t call it a disease in camels; they don’t get sick – they’re infected, they are carriers of the virus,” the newspaper reported Dr. Ulrich Wernery, the CVRL’s scientific director, as saying.
He added that one-humped camels especially act as reservoirs for the virus and can easily transmit it to their owners.
According to the newspaper, baby camels develop antibodies from their mothers’ milk, and are therefore immune to the virus. But by the time they are four to six months old, they will have lost that immunity, and can easily catch the contagious virus.
The vaccine has been tested in Germany and Spain on a limited number of camels and showed positive results. However, they plan on performing larger scale tests to make sure the vaccine works.
Dr. Wernery told the newspaper that camel owners will be encouraged to get the vaccine as the disease affects the camels’ performance in racing events. They added that a similar vaccine to treat humans is also being developed.