By Sylvia Westall KUWAIT (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said people handling camels should wear masks and gloves to prevent spreading Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), issuing such a warning for the first time as cases of the potentially fatal virus neared 500 in the kingdom. Health experts say camels are the most likely animal source of infection for the disease, which the Saudi Health Ministry said on Sunday three more people had caught and four had died from. First reported two years ago in Saudi Arabia, MERS is a coronavirus like SARS, which originated in animals and killed around 800 people worldwide after first appearing in China in 2002. There is no vaccine or anti-viral treatment against it. Around a third of the 483 diagnosed with MERS in Saudi Arabia have died. Saudi Arabia is still the focal point of the outbreak, although cases have been reported in other Middle Eastern countries, in Europe and in the United States, which had its first confirmed case last month. The link between human cases and camels - which have a special place in Saudi society - is the subject of extensive study among scientists abroad. But it has been relatively absent from much of the official domestic debate. In a statement, the Agriculture Ministry advised people not to come into contact with camels unless necessary and to wash hands before and after if they did, as well as wearing face masks, state news agency SPA said on Sunday. "It is advisable to wear protective gloves, especially when dealing with births or sick or dead (camels)," it said, according to SPA. It also advised only eating cooked camel meat and to boil camel milk before consuming it. The statement urged people to report symptoms of MERS in camels immediately. Only one of dozens of people working near an auction pen in Riyadh's camel market on Sunday was wearing a mask, and there were no signs of any official visit from the authorities, a Reuters photographer said. RAMADAN INFLUX Public disquiet in Saudi Arabia has grown amid rumors on social media sites about a lack of transparency from officials about the spread of the disease. The recent upsurge in reported cases is also of wider concern, not least because of the influx of visitors from around the world expected in July during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and again during the annual Haj pilgrimage in October. In a move the Health Ministry said was aimed at countering the spread of the virus, Riyadh on Tuesday replaced the head of the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah, where many of the new cases have been recorded. The World Health Organization said outbreaks of MERS in the city's two main hospitals were partly due to breaches in its recommended infection prevention and control measures. After a five-day mission in Saudi Arabia, WHO also said there has been no significant change in the virus' ability to spread. Scientists say MERS does not transmit easily between people. The Health Ministry first linked MERS with camels at a news conference last month, but the Agriculture Ministry statement was the first official notification for those working with the animals. Camels provide a link to an important but vanishing nomadic tradition in Saudi Arabia. They can be traded for thousands of dollars and some are entered into races which are popular across the Gulf region. Traders, breeders, vets and handlers at the main animal market in Riyadh told Reuters last month authorities had given them no advice or warning about the link between camels and MERS. Saudi Arabia, a U.S.-ally and conservative absolute monarchy, allows little public dissent and is often secretive about subjects seen as politically sensitive. (Editing by Angus McDowall and Sophie Hares)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
All these years later, one man still stands out to Jennifer Aniston when it comes to bad Friends guest stars. Why? You'll just have to keep reading.
Footage shared on Twitter by Andy Slater, a Fox Sports 640 radio host, shows a section of the building crumbling amid a plume of ash and debris.
"Family fireworks about to be ignited for our viewing entertainment," the longtime Trump fixer wrote.
- Yahoo Canada Style
'It's a whole different face': Kylie Jenner fans react after viral TikTok compares old photos of the star
"She's literally not the same person."
- USA TODAY
The building had been sinking at an alarming rate - about 2 millimeters a year - according to a 2020 study.
- HuffPost Life
Erase these common phrases from your parenting vocabulary.
- Business Insider
A US Air Force Ghostrider gunship crew received awards for saving 88 lives with nearly 2 hours of non-stop fire
The heavily armed gunship poured fire on the enemy, clearing the way for helicopters to rescue wounded troops.
- USA TODAY Sports
David DeCastro was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his last six seasons with the Steelers, who are going through a major reshuffling up front.
- Business Insider
Republican congressman warns 'more people will die' over false claims of 2020 election fraud after call for executions airs on pro-Trump media outlet
Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan, condemned a recent segment from One America News where a host called for executing "traitors."
The Orioles hurler showed off his "filthy" knuckler in his MLB debut.
Point of fact: Mom-friendly swimwear means something different for a former supermodel than it does to the rest of us. Mom of four Heidi Klum showed us just how different in a series of sexy bikini pics on Instagram, all shots taken by her manly rock star husband of two years, Tom Kaulitz. With a […]
- In The Know
His wife did not take his side on the issue, however.
- NBC Sports
Ben Simmons became the 76ers' scapegoat as soon as they lost to the Hawks.
- NBC Sports Boston
What can Celtics fans expect from new head coach Ime Udoka? This 2015 quote from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich should generate plenty of excitement.
- Women's Health
Her husband caught every sculpted angle on camera.
- Yahoo Sports
Gordon has worked for Fox ever since he retired from the Cup Series. Now he'll be the No. 2 man at Hendrick behind Rick Hendrick.
- Golf Channel
Phil Mickelson made 156 feet of putts in Round 1 at the Travelers, with two-thirds of that coming on two holes.
A month out from the Tokyo Olympics, the US men's basketball roster is taking shape, and it once again looks like a juggernaut.
- Kansas City Star
Chances are, you’ve never seen something like this at soccer game.
Britney Spears' parents have both responded to her bombshell testimony calling for the end of her 'abusive' conservatorship
Spears spoke to the court about the negative influence she says her conservatorship has had on her life.