Adihex camel auction not Mers risk to visitors

Organisers of Adihex, which will be held from September 10-13, have assured the pubic there is no need for concern as the health of the animals involved will be thoroughly checked and members of the public will not come into contact with any of the camels.

ABU DHABI // All safety precautions will be taken to ensure camels due to be auctioned at this year’s Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition are healthy and free of Mers, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

Organisers of the exhibition, Adihex, which will be held from September 10-13, have stressed the health of the animals involved will be thoroughly checked and members of the public will not come into contact with any of the camels.

“In an auction no one gets close to the camels and I don’t think there will be any risks involved,” said Abdulla bin Butti Al Qubaisi. “In Adihex itself the camel activities are very small and all the animals come from the very professional camel hospital in Sweihan. The doctors there are making sure that none of the animals in the auction are affected.”

Mr Al Qubaisi said education sessions will be held at Adihex to raise awareness about the risks associated with Mers.

“Of course we are preparing a show and awareness session and educational area for people to know more about the coronavirus and the impact of the virus on our cultural heritage that relates to camels and camel activities.

“All precautions that can be taken will be done. People are concerned, and of course that is why we need to hold the education sessions,” he said.

Concern continues to grow around the role camels may play in the spread of the disease to humans.

Abu Dhabi Health Authority has warned people not to kiss camels and against approaching the animals under new measures to prevent contraction of the coronavirus.

Studies have demonstrated that there are indications the virus is transmitted through animals, particularly camels, reported Al Ittihad, The National’s Arabic sister newspaper.

However, the health authority said there was no solid evidence of transmission from camels to humans, saying there is still a need for further scientific research and laboratory experiments to identify and confirm the origin of the virus.

The health authority advised people to avoid contact with camels, particularly individuals suffering from immunodeficiency diseases or chronic diseases. It urged people to stop kissing camels and to wear protective clothing and gloves when in direct contact with camels showing signs of a respiratory problems and nasal discharge.

Tour companies across Abu Dhabi often take visitors to camel farms during trips into the desert, but organisers say there is no need for concern.

“The camels that we take visitors to have all been tested by a doctor over a month ago,” said Sultan Al Blooshi, owner of Abu Dhabi Desert Safari. “They are not affected.”

During the dune bashing excursions to Al Khatem, just off the Abu Dhabi to Al Ain road, the company visits a group of camels for tourists to take pictures with as well as ride.

“When we first heard about the virus we did not stop at a camel farm during the safari, people just took pictures from the car,” he said. “I told the leaders of the visits to not stop there, but after I asked the owner of that farm they told me that the camels are fine.

“There are maybe four or five other companies that also go there.”

Mr Al Blooshi said that to his knowledge no customers had expressed concern about visiting the camels while on a tour.

The number of infections worldwide is 635, with 37 cases discovered in the UAE between March and early May.

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Published: May 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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