By Sharon Atieno

The cases of camel respiratory illness and deaths reported in northern Kenya and the greater Horn of Africa since May,2020, have been found to be as a result of a bacterial disease and not Middle East Respiratory Sydrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as earlier alleged.

This was confirmed after the Kenyan Director of Veterinary Services (DVS) investigated reports that were recorded between May and June this year.

The disease characterized by nasal discharge, coughing and difficulty in breathing followed by death was affecting young camels in Isiolo, Marsabit, Mandera and Garissa counties.

According to a statement from the DVS, the sickness was caused by mannheimia haemolytica bacteria which causes respiratory illness in livestock and subsequent death if not treated.

MERS-CoV is a viral disease which affects both camels and humans with majority of human cases being reported in the Arabian Peninsula. However, studies show that Kenyan camels have high exposure to a MERS-CoV strain that is different from the virus in the Middle East.