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Last updated at 13:41 BST, Monday, 12 May 2014

Middle East virus possibly spread by camels


12 May 2014

Saudi Arabia has issued its strongest warning so far over the possible connection between camels and a virus that has killed more than one hundred people in the country. The virus, known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has infected nearly five hundred people in Saudi Arabia.

Sebastian Usher

Camels walking across the desert

Camels head across the desert: could they be carrying the MERS virus?


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Saudis who handle camels have been told to wear protective clothing - masks and gloves. In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture advised people to avoid contact with the animals if they can and to drink only boiled camel milk.

The Ministry is responding to increasing concern from health experts that camels are the likeliest carriers of the SARS-like virus, MERS, which has spread across much of the Middle East, but is at its most virulent in Saudi Arabia.

The camel remains a key part of traditional Saudi life. Some farmers have scoffed at the warnings, with one posting a video of himself hugging and kissing his camels, asking one to sneeze into his face.


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touch or work with


warned or told


(here) animals that spread a disease


dangerous and fast-spreading

a key part

an important part


laughed at or showed no respect for something they were told

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