New coronavirus strain kills hundreds of camels in Kenya

A mysterious ailment that has been killing hundreds of camels in northeastern Kenya for months now has been established as a strain of coronavirus according to health officials in the Marsabit county of northern Kenya.

Health officials in Marsabit told reporters the coronavirus in camels poses no major risk to humans but has killed over 200 camels, warning that the number is probably higher as most cases have gone unreported.

Marsabit health officials and local administrators say the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) is responsible for the camel deaths that have crippled a vibrant livestock business, with traders coming from across the border — from Somalia and Ethiopia — to buy camels that are sold for no less than $800 each.

“This camel coronavirus has been found within the camel population and three people … who were handling the camels have been found to have the coronavirus,” Adano Kochi, the public health director of Marsabit county told reporters.

Bonaya Racha, a local chief who represents the government in the area, said: “Over 200 camels have died here in Marsabit alone, our camels have had a terrible cough, their two lymph nodes are swelling and after some few days they die”.

The local population is now worried despite being assured that the camel coronavirus poses no risk to them as a majority of the population rely on camel products, including milk, meat, and cheese.

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