The authorities in Saudi Arabia, alarmed over the rising human death toll from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, said they would start testing the kingdom’s entire population of camels and other livestock next week, Saudi newspapers reported Thursday. The Arab News quoted Fahd Balghuneim, the agriculture minister, as saying the tests to determine the extent of infection would be conducted via blood or mucus samples. Saudi Arabia has in the past few days adopted a more aggressive response to the virus, known as MERS, which originated in the country two years ago and has been linked to camels, which spread the virus to humans. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said a review showed that the death toll was 282, 92 more than reported a day earlier, and it announced that the deputy health minister had been relieved. On Wednesday, in the clearest evidence yet that MERS can be passed directly from camels to humans, research published in The New England Journal of Medicine said genetic sequencing had shown that a Saudi man who died of MERS in November had a strain virtually identical to that in one of the camels in his herd.
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(via NY Times)