Are Mass Camel Deaths in North Eastern Kenya Caused by the Coronavirus?

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A news article shared on a news website and subsequently on the same outlet’s Facebook page on August 5 claims that the mass demise of camels in the North-Eastern region of Kenya is due to a new strain of the coronavirus.

The article goes on to claim that the camels had contacted the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS‐CoV) a viral respiratory illness, according to health officials in Marsabit. The camels are said to have had a terrible cough, their lymph nodes swelling followed by death later.

Background

With the onset of COVID-19, there has been fear of any kind of respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms being regarded as COVID-19. This has led to people believing any similar instances in animals to be of the coronavirus too. The fear has further been expounded by scientists saying the virus may have originated from bats. The virus is also believed to have been passed through pangolins as intermediary hosts.

Reports of mass camel deaths appeared in the media with locals in the North-Eastern region saying they had lost over 200 camels.

Camels are a vital source of income and livelihood in arid and semi-arid areas providing transport, food and milk to the mostly pastoral communities who live there.

Verification

According to the Director of Veterinary Services Charles Ochodo, the camels in North-Eastern died of a bacterial infection known as Mannheim haemolytica which causes respiratory illness in livestock and death if not treated early enough.

The bacteria is associated with the Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) affecting livestock such as cattle, sheep and camels. It brings about acute pneumonia which is fatal if not treated early enough.

Verdict

The claim that mass camel deaths in the North-Eastern region were caused by the coronavirus is FALSE

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Moffin Njoroge

Moffin is passionate about data and strives to find patterns, stories and leads by analyzing and interpreting datasets.