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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Australia : Dengue fever makes early showing in far north Qld

Via ABC News

Health authorities in far north Queensland are warning there could be more confirmed cases of dengue fever in coming days.

Three people have tested positive to the type one strain of the virus in Cairns in the past week.
Further north, 15 people have contracted the type three strain around Port Douglas and Miallo since October.
Dr Steven Donohue from Tropical Public Health Services says there are another four suspected cases.
He says mosquito control teams have been working in the affected areas."

Singapore : Slight increase in dengue cases

Via Channel News Asia :

A total of 415 dengue cases were reported last week, between December 22 and 28.

This is a slight increase from about 372 cases reported the previous week.
A total of 81 cases were reported on Sunday and Monday.
The total number of dengue cases since the beginning of the year so far is 22,094."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Canada : Dozens hospitalized after nasty flu hits Calgary

Via Calgary Herald, excerpt :

A particularly nasty kind of influenza circulating in the city this year has sent dozens of people to hospital, with thousands of Calgarians lining up to get their flu shots in the last few days to ward off the illness.

By midday Saturday, the Calgary zone had 274 lab-confirmed cases of influenza since the start of the season, with most of the cases being the H1N1 pandemic strain from four years ago.

In a 24-hour period between Friday and Saturday, 33 new positive lab reports were recorded, including 13 cases that required hospitalization, said Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services in Calgary.

While the number of cases isn’t unusual as the season picks up steam, the number of severe influenza illnesses sending people to the hospital is high, with 122 cases reported, she said."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Malaysia : Dengue Kills 88 People Compared With 35 Deaths Last Year, Dr Noor

Via Bernama :

" Dengue fever killed 88 victims up to Dec 21 this year, an increase of 151 per cent from the 35 fatal cases during the same period of last year, said the Director-General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Except for Terengganu and the Federal Territory of Labuan, the other states had reported fatalities with Selangor reporting the highest figure of 24 fatal cases, followed by Johor with 21 fatalities, said Dr Noor Hisham.

As for the other states, Melaka had nine fatalities; Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (8); Penang (7); Perak, Sarawak and Sabah had four each; Kelantan and Pahang (two each); while Perlis, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan had one death each.

He said the rise in dengue cases had been significant in 12 states compared with last year, which included Melaka with 229 per cent; Johor (191 per cent); Selangor (152 per cent); Negeri Sembilan (100 per cent); Perak (42 per cent), Labuan (40 per cent); Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (39 per cent); Penang (31 per cent); and Perlis (30 per cent)."

Canada : Alberta H1N1 Cases Double In One Week

Via The Huffington Post :

One person has died from H1N1 influenza in Alberta, and the province's senior medical officer of health says this year's strain is causing a small number of people to get seriously ill.

Dr. Gerry Predy also says the number of confirmed influenza cases in the Edmonton area has jumped this week to 125, up from 65 last week.
Predy says those numbers, and the death, are not unusual, but what is is that there's a small number of people who have been seriously ill with the flu."

New MERS death in Saudi; toll 57

Via The Peninsula :

Saudi health authorities announced yesterday a new MERS death, taking to 57 the number of people killed by the coronavirus in the country with the most fatalities.

The health ministry said in a statement on its website that a 73-year-old Saudi man, who suffered from chronic illnesses, died in Riyadh after he contracted MERS.

Authorities also registered four other new MERS cases in the capital.

Two are Saudis, one is a 57-year-old who is chronically ill and in intensive care and the other is a 27-year-old medic.

The other two people infected are foreign medics, a 43-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man."

Malaysia : Big jump in dengue cases

Via The Star :

" Dengue cases have increased to almost threefold in the Subang Jaya municipality this year.
There were 2,547 up to mid-December this year, compared to 669 cases reported in 2012.
Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) Health Department director Dr Roslan Mohamed Hussin said there has been a spike in dengue outbreaks in the region. “In Singapore, there is a 400% increase,” he said.
The dengue cases resulted in three deaths this year. There were no deaths reported last year while there were seven deaths in 2010.
Victims were from Serdang Perdana, Pangsapuri Melor in Puchong Prima and Pangsapuri Sri Mas in Taman Pinggiran Putra.

USA. Texas : Houston teenager killed by H1N1; death toll rises to 13

Article via KHOU, excerpt :

A teenager from the Houston area died from H1N1, according to the City of Houston Health Department.

As of Thursday, there were 13 confirmed deaths from the H1N1 Flu in the greater Houston area. Katy Barton with the City of Houston Health Department confirmed the death on Thursday.
“It was my understanding it was H1N1,” Barton said.

The child was a Houston teenager, but because of privacy rules she could not reveal how old the child was or when they died.

According to the CDC, there have been four pediatric deaths nationwide from the flu. Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and New York remain hotbeds for flu activity."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

11 quarantined in China bird flu alert

Via Xinhua :

Eleven people who had direct contact with chicken infected with H5N2 avian influenza virus are in quarantine on Monday in north China's Hebei Province, according to local government.

So far none have shown any symptoms nor been confirmed as infected with the virus, said the Nanshi district government of Baoding City in Hebei.
On Sunday, areas within 3 km of a poultry farm where an H5N2 outbreak occurred last week were sealed off.
On Dec. 17, 4,000 chickens at the farm were killed after they showed symptoms avian flu, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory on Saturday confirmed the epidemic was H5N2 after testing samples collected at the farm.
Local authorities have sealed off and sterilized the infected area, and a total of 125,700 chickens have now been culled and safely disposed of."

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update

Press release from WHO :

On 20 December 2013, WHO has been informed of an additional laboratory-confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A 68 year-old male with onset of illness on 13 December, was admitted to hospital on 14 December 2013 for Joint replacement, he was also complaining of cough and transferred to the intensive care unit on 16 December due to rapid deterioration. 
On 19 December 2013, the diagnosis was laboratory confirmed for MERS-CoV. The patient has underlying medical conditions. Preliminary investigations reveal that he had no recent travel history and no contact with animals, and no contact with laboratory confirmed case. Investigation among family and healthcare contacts is ongoing.
Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 166 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 71 deaths.
Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns.
Health care providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travellers returning from the Middle East who develop SARI should be tested for MERS-CoV as advised in the current surveillance recommendations."

Monday, December 23, 2013

H5N2 bird flu areas sealed off in N China

Via Xinhua, excerpt :

Areas within 3 km of a farm in north China's Hebei Province, the site of an H5N2 bird flu outbreak in poultry, were confirmed to have been sealed off, according to local government.

The disease killed 4,000 chickens raised at the farm in Baoding City after they showed symptoms of suspected avian flu on Dec. 17, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory on Saturday confirmed the epidemic was caused by the H5N2 avian influenza virus after testing samples collected at the farm.
Local authorities have sealed off and sterilized the infected area, where a total of 125,700 chickens have been culled and safely disposed of to prevent the disease from spreading."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Canada, Alberta : H1N1 flu cases confirmed at Misericordia Hospital, AHS urging people to get flu shot

Via CTV News :

" Officials with Alberta Health Services have confirmed about a number of staff and patients at a west Edmonton hospital have been diagnosed with the flu, and some of those confirmed to be H1N1.

AHS officials said the outbreak was first detected earlier in December at the Misericordia Hospital, and there were about three lab-confirmed cases – two of those have been confirmed as H1N1, with a handful of other suspected cases of the flu.

Health officials said at the Misericordia Hospital, about 20 percent of staff had been immunized against the flu – that number was later revised to 42 percent.

Edmonton’s Medical Officer of Health with AHS, Dr. Chris Sikora, said he’s not sure why more healthcare providers aren’t getting the shot."

Malaysia : Dengue deaths rising - red alert

Via The Star :

" While the thought of contracting H1N1 may cause alarm, figures show that a deadlier killer is on the rise – dengue.

While just two people died from H1N1 this year, dengue has already claimed 83 people.

As of Dec 14, dengue cases rose by a whopping 87.5% (18,299), with 39,222 cases recorded this year compared to 20,923 last year.

The number of deaths, meanwhile, jumped by 137% to 83 deaths from 48 deaths in the same time period.

Health Ministry disease control division director Dr Chong Chee Kheong said many people still viewed dengue as a mild disease despite the fact that 10% to 15% of dengue cases were severe."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Canada, Vancouver : H1N1 strain dominating flu season, experts say

Via The Globe and Mail, excerpt :

The H1N1 flu strain that swept through B.C. schools and workplaces in 2009 is back with a vengeance after lurking in the background for the past few seasons.

“It’s not gone away – it’s been circulating at low levels over the last few years,” Danuta Skowronski, a flu expert with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, said on Thursday.
“This year, more than 90 per cent of the viruses we have detected in British Columbia have been pandemic H1N1 virus – and that’s true in other parts of North America as well – the H1N1 virus is dominating,” Dr. Skowronski said.
Last year, a virus known as NH3N2 dominated.
An H1N1 outbreak in 2009 triggered a national vaccination campaign, line-ups at vaccination clinics and some classrooms being nearly emptied of children who were sick or being kept home by parents for preventive reasons."

US, Florida : Dade City mom, 27, dies of complications from swine flu

Article via the Tampa Bay Times, excerpt :

For three days last month, Holly Harrelson endured what she described as "pure misery."

"Haven't been able to keep my temp below 102.0 and I feel like I'm riding shotgun with death!" she posted Nov. 3 on her Facebook page. If by morning nothing had changed, she was headed to the hospital. "At this point I'm scared," she wrote.
The next day, the 27-year-old mother of three went to Pasco Regional Medical Center, where she died. Friends and health officials say it was from complications from the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu.
Harrelson got sick at a time when the county and the state reported only mild flu activity. However, the number of people seeking treatment for symptoms appeared to be on the rise, according to a week-by-week state report called "Flu Review."
One pediatric influenza-associated death has been reported in the state during the 2013-14 flu season. Currently, Florida reports "minimal" levels of flu activity.
The most common flu reported in Florida during recent weeks was the strain that Harrelson had, the H1N1. Swine flu caused a world-wide pandemic in 2009. It is now a human seasonal flu virus that also circulates in pigs."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WHO : Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - update

From WHO :

" WHO has been informed of an additional two laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

The first case is a 51 year-old female from Saudi Arabia, living in Jawf province with onset of symptoms on 20 November 2013. She has underlying chronic disease and was transferred to Riyadh for treatment in an intensive care unit. She had no reported contact with animals. The epidemiological investigation is ongoing. The second case is a 26 year-old female who is a non-Saudi healthcare worker in Riyadh. She is asymptomatic. She had reported contact with a 37 year-old male laboratory confirmed case that was reported to WHO on 21 November 2013.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 165 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 71 deaths."

Malaysia : Dengue claims 79 lives in 2013, Selangor hardest hit

Artice via The Malaysian Insider :

Dengue has claimed a total of 79 lives this year, more than double the 34 deaths reported in 2012, the Health Ministry said.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said at least five deaths from dengue fever were reported this month alone, four of which were college students.
As of December 7, 37,698 cases had been reported, an 85% increase from the 20,387 cases from the same period last year."

Fiji : Dengue alert

Via The Fiji Times Online :

THE Ministry of Health says it suspects a new strain of dengue is circulating in Fiji following the discovery of 13 new dengue cases at the CWM Hospital in the last week alone.

The ministry was alerted to the possibility after finding out that along with the 13 new cases, there were also 42 more cases recorded at CWMH in the previous four weeks.
Communicable diseases acting national adviser Dr Mike Kama explained there were four strains of dengue with most people in Fiji immune to the endemic dengue 1 strain.
"Most people in Fiji are immune to dengue 1 so it requires an introduction of another type in order for these kinds of things to happen," he said.
"So we are suspecting that may be the case but we don't have that information right now. We've sent our blood away to try to ascertain that."
He said a team had visited CWMH after learning of the unusually high number of new dengue cases."

Scientists prove deadly human MERS virus also infects camels

Article via Reuters, excerpt :

Scientists have proved for the first time that the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus that has killed 71 people can also infect camels, strengthening suspicions the animals may be a source of the human outbreak.

Researchers from the Netherlands and Qatar used gene-sequencing techniques to show that three dromedary, or one-humped camels, on a farm in Qatar where two people had contracted the MERS coronavirus (CoV) were also infected.
The study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Tuesday, confirms preliminary findings released by Qatari health officials last month. Camels are used in the region for meat, milk, transport and racing."

China reports second H7N9 case in two days

Via Xinhua :

South China's Guangdong Province on Monday reported the second H7N9 bird flu case since Sunday.

The female patient, Zhang, 65, resident of the city of Yangjiang, is in serious condition, the provincial health authority said in a statement.
Guangdong on Sunday confirmed an H7N9 case from a man, aged 39, who is also in serious condition. The province has warned the public of the transmission after the virus was found in its live poultry markets.
Lin Shaochun, vice governor of Guangdong, warned at a meeting on Sunday that the province had entered a season when human infections of H7N9 are highly likely to occur."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Panama confirms first death from dengue

Machine translated article from El Nuevo Diario :

" The Ministry of Health of Panama today confirmed that a 60 year old man became the first fatality of dengue in the country where this year there have been 1,964 cases of the disease, according to official statistics.

In a statement, the Health Ministry said the victim, not identified but notes that dwelt in the town of Chepo, about 50 miles from Panama City, was treated at a health center in the community on November 27 last and then transferred to the capital Santo Tomas Hospital "diagnosed with dengue with warning signs."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

China : Two Shenzhen wet markets test positive for H7N9 bird flu virus

Via South China Morning Post :

" Two wet markets in Shenzhen have been found to have traces of the H7N9 bird flu virus, Guangdong health authorities announced on Wednesday.

A health spokesman said three out of 70 environmental samples collected from 13 wet markets had tested positive for the deadly bird flu strain.

The samples were collected from chicken stools, cutting boards and depilators collected from live chicken stalls at two wet markets in the city’s Longgang district.

The spokesman said experts believe the risk of the H7N9 virus spreading throughout Guangdong was very high, and other cases would be discovered in the area soon."

Hong Kong : Upper respiratory tract infection outbreak under CHP investigation

Press release from Hong Kong's CHP :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (December 11) appealed to members of the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent upper respiratory tract infection (URI).

The appeal followed the CHP's investigation into a URI outbreak at a primary school in Central and Western District, affecting 18 pupils (nine boys and nine girls) aged between 6 and 8, and two staff members (one man and one woman).

Investigations revealed that the affected persons developed symptoms of URI including fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat since December 4.

Eight of them sought medical consultation but none required hospitalisation. They are currently in stable condition.

Officers of the CHP conducted a site visit and provided preventive advice against URI to the school. The school was placed under medical surveillance."

Malaysia : Bus load of Kedah police staff quarantined

Via The Sun Daily :

A busload of civilian police staff have been quarantined in Kedah for the past four days to be screened for Influenza A after attending a gathering in Malacca where a member of their delegation died of the flu.
Hundreds of others who also attended the event including Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar were released after being screened by medical personnel.
More than 300 police personnel and civilian staff from all states were at the function.
The victim, whose identity has not been disclosed, was part of a delegation attached to Kedah police who attended a gathering held for civilian staff in conjunction with the 206th Police Day celebrations in Malacca on Friday which was attended by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.
It is learnt that despite being ill, the woman attended the function but her condition worsened after the gathering and she was warded at Malacca Hospital where she succumbed to the flu the next day.
At a press conference here today, Khalid said in investigations showed that the cause of the flu was the influenza A virus and not the H1N1 virus."

India : 152 Deaths Due to Dengue

Via The New Indian Express :

A total of 152 dengue deaths have been reported from the country this year and Maharashtra has topped the chart with 35 causalities, the government said today.       

Union Health and Family Welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Rajya Sabha that a total of 67,365 dengue cases were reported till November this year and out of that 152 deaths were reported.
While 35 deaths were reported from Maharashtra, 24 dengue deaths took place in Kerela.       
According to figures given to Rajya Sabha by the ministry, 285 deaths have been reported from Malaria this year till October out of the total 6,93,006 Malaria cases in various parts of the country."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hong Kong, China offer more details on H7N9 cases

From Lisa Schnirring at CIDRAP :

Hong Kong health officials investigating two imported H7N9 influenza from mainland China have found poultry exposures for both patients, as new details emerged about a family connection between China's two newest cases, a father and son from Zhejiang province.

Updates on Hong Kong's cases were provided today during a pandemic preparedness steering committee meeting called by Ko Wing-man, MBBS, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health, according to a government press release.
Hospital officials told the group that the first patient, a 36-year-old woman, is still hospitalized, and her condition has been upgraded from critical to serious. Her fever has subsided and she no longer needs extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment. The second patient, an 80-year-old man, is still hospitalized in an isolation unit in stable condition and has a slight fever.

Source of H7N9 still a mystery

Article via The Standard, excerpt :

" A team of local medical experts met with Shenzhen and Guangdong provincial health authorities but could not trace the source of the H7N9 bird flu that has sickened two people in Hong Kong.

The team included Chuang Shuk- kwan, community medicine consultant at the Centre for Health Protection, and Tsang Tak-yin, medicine and geriatrics consultant at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Centre controller Leung Ting-hung said mainland health officials have started investigations and taken samples from poultry markets.

"The source of infection cannot be ascertained at this stage, which was agreed by both the Guangdong and Hong Kong sides," Leung said.

But he said that the second patient, an ailing 80-year-old who lives in Shenzhen, did not come into contact with live poultry, although his family members bought slaughtered chicken."

Monday, December 9, 2013

US, Wisconsin : Milwaukee flu hospitalizations up significantly from last year

Via Journal Sentinel :

" Two months into the flu season, Milwaukee already has reported more than five times the number of influenza-related hospitalizations as last year. 

More than half of those people did not get a flu shot, according to a city health department analysis released late Friday.

Twenty-three people in the city have been hospitalized with the flu so far this year, compared with just four this time last year. 
That count represents about half of all flu hospitalizations reported statewide and marks an increase from late November, when 15 flu-related hospitalizations were reported statewide and about half were in Milwaukee County."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

China : More Dutch poultry banned

Article via :

The Centre for Food Safety has banned poultry product imports from Groningen in the Netherlands due to an avian influenza outbreak.

The World Organisation for Animal Health notified the centre of the low-pathogenic H5 avian influenza outbreak today.
About 14,000 tonnes of frozen poultry meat and 13 million poultry eggs were imported to Hong Kong from the Netherlands from January to October.
Import bans on the same items from three other Dutch provinces - Flevoland, Utrecht and Friesland - have been in effect since March."

More cases of A-H1N1 virus recorded in Grenada

Via Caribbean 360 :

" Less than a month after recording its first case of the A-HINI virus, health authorities in Grenada say the island has now recorded two more positive cases.

The Ministry of Health said that the two new cases were confirmed by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Chief Medical Officer Dr George Mitchell said since the first confirmed case on November 5, several samples were sent for testing but had returned negative.

However, Dr Mitchell said the two new cases were from the latest batch sent to CARPHA for testing and that health officials have since stepped up their activities to do what is necessary and practical in the public’s interest.

Seasonal influenza can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. It is characterized by symptoms such as a sudden high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose."

WHO : Yellow fever in Sudan - update

Press release from WHO :

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in Sudan has notified WHO of a yellow fever (YF) outbreak affecting twelve localities in West and South Kordofan states. The affected localities are Lagawa, Kailak, Muglad and Abyei localities in West Kordofan and Elreef Alshargi, Abu Gibaiha, Ghadir, Habila, Kadugli, Altadamon, Talodi and Aliri in South Kordofan.

Between 3 October and 24 November 2013, a total of 44 suspected cases of yellow fever including 14 deaths (CFR: 31.8% ) were reported from this outbreak. The field investigation carried out by the FMOH team revealed that the initial suspected cases were reported among the seasonal workers coming from the eastern states of Sudan who traveled to the state of West Kordofan for gum Arabic plantation during the month of October. Subsequently suspected cases were also reported amongst the locally residing population of both West and South Kordofan states. 
The blood samples collected by the field investigation team of the FMOH from the suspected cases were positive for YF by IgM ELISA Assay at the National Public Health Laboratory of the FMOH in Khartoum. The blood samples were later re-confirmed at the Institute of Pasteur of Senegal, a WHO reference laboratory for yellow fever by IgM ELISA test followed by the seroneutralizing test (PRNT) for yellow fever. The entomological survey carried out by the field investigation team also found Aedes aegepty mosquitoes in the areas, the vector that can sustain transmission of YF."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hong Kong steps up health controls after first H7N9 case confirmed

Via South China Morning Post :

" Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday Hong Kong would step up health checks at border checkpoints to screen visitors with fever symptoms in the wake of the city's first confirmed human case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus.

Agricultural officers would also inspect local poultry farms and chicken stalls on Tuesday, the chief executive said.

An Indonesian maid fell sick after travelling to Shenzhen last month where she had cooked a live chicken. She was subsequently tested positive for the deadly new strain on return to Hong Kong – the first case here. She was admitted to Queen Mary Hospital and was in a critical condition on Tuesday morning.

The live-in maid works for a family of four – a couple with two children. All four were said to have minor flu symptoms and were under observation in quarantine at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Speaking before an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Leung said the government took the case seriously.

“The Centre for Health Protection is trying to trace the source of the virus and how it spread. It is also working with the Hospital Authority to monitor those who have had close contact with the patient,” he said.

On the coming public consultation on political reforms, Leung revealed that the consultation document, expected as early as Wednesday, would likely “list out all the requirements under the Basic Law and the [2007 rulings] of the National People’s Congress.”

He said his administration would keep an open mind but these requirements must be considered when Hong Kong pursued its political reform."

MERS-CoV: UAE reports cases, Qatar finds infected c

From Robert Roos at CIDRAP, excerpt :

" The United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday reported three Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) cases in one young family, including a pregnant woman. That report came 4 days after Qatari officials revealed that the virus was found in three camels with links to two human case-patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that the UAE cases involved a 38-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman, and their 8-year-old son. Media reports said the three were from Jordan, but the WHO statement did not list their nationality. A report today in the UAE newspaper The National said the mother has died of her illness.

The report from Qatar marks the second time the virus has been found in camels, the previous instance having been reported by Saudi Arabia about 3 weeks ago. But scientists have not yet found conclusive evidence that camels are a source of human infections."