Study: Israeli camels exposed to MERS, but no sign of virus circulation

By: Radio Times
Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay
Original content from CIDRAP.    

Tests on camels and their relatives in Israel, a country that hasn't reported any human MERS-CoV cases, found that although the animals may have been exposed to the virus in the past, there wasn't any sign of active circulation during the study period, according to researchers who looked at blood and nasal swabs collected from 2012 to 2017.

In other MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) developments, Saudi Arabia reported another human illness, involving a 66-year-old man who had contact with camels.

Antibody titers lower than in nearby nations

In the camelid study, researchers from Israel and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands said evidence for MERS-CoV in dromedary camels has been reported for nearly all of the Middle East, except for Israel.

Reporting in the journal One Health, they said the dromedary camel population in Israel is thought to range between 3,000 and 5,000, many of them kept by semi-nomadic Bedouin people in the Negev Desert. Also, they said the Negev is home to one of the largest herd of alpacas and llamas outside of South America.

To look for evidence of past exposure to MERS-CoV, the scientists collected blood samples from 2012 through 2017: 411 from camels, 102 from alpacas, and 19 from llamas. Eighteen of 20 camel farms they visited were in Negev, and the alpacas and llamas were from one farm in Negev.

Read the rest of this story at CIDRAP.  

Existence of herding dog at risk in Turkey due to dwindling sheep farming

Xinhua Net
By: Burak Akinci
Photo: Pxhere

Original content from Xinhua Net.     

ANKARA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Kangal dog, huge and adorable and possibly the best herd-protecting dogs in the world, is a national icon in Turkey, but their existence is now at risk due to dwindling sheep farming.

But their main mission and even existence is at risk because sheep farming which was once a primary source of income has been hit by modern technology or bad economy and sheep flocks decrease by the year.

The huge watchful dogs of intimidating size are farmers best friends and are capable of killing wolves, jackals, bears and scare also sheep thieves.

"This is the best herd protecting dog breed. They are not shepherd dog. They protect the sheep," Yahya Ozdemir, a breeder from the Kangal town, told Xinhua.

The 37-year breeder, who works in a state-owned farm, explained that he always had an interest for this fearless dog since he was a boy in his remote village of the rugged high plateau, 350 km east of the capital Ankara.

"We breed only pure blood Kangals, the typical livestock guardian dogs of Anatolia. We have 50 of them right now," explained Yahya, adding that a couple of female and male pups sell for 1.75 Turkish Liras (450 U.S. dollars).

Read the rest of this story at Xinhua Net.

Pacca Alpaca

Saudi Gazette
By: Saudi Gazette
Photo: Courtesy of Saudi Gazette
Original content from Saudi Gazette.

PACCA Alpaca, a prominent pre-school edutainment brand developed by a Saudi educator, is expanding its mission in Saudi Arabia.

Anamil Tech is a Riyadh- and London-based company founded by Sarah Faisal Al-Saud.

With a PhD in Human Computer Interaction and a mother of two pre-school children, Sarah’s passion for using technology to expand children’s learning led her to create two award-winning educational apps that follow the adventures of Pacca Alpaca, a colorful character that embodies the wonder and curiosity of a pre-school child.

The apps feature hours of interactive learning in seven languages with a focus on children’s character development, social skills, resilience and critical thinking – all in the context of exploring diverse cultures.

Encouraged by multiple awards, critical acclaim and popular demand from both parents and children, Anamil Tech launched the Pacca Alpaca YouTube channel that today features hundreds of videos and millions of dedicated viewers.

“I am amazed at the success of Pacca Alpaca,” said Sarah. “It tells me there is a need and demand for educational content that explores the world from a child’s unique point of view."

Read the rest of this story and view the photos at Saudi Gazette.    

People Are Making Huge Sweaters To Protect Elephants From The Cold

The Huffington Post
By: Hilary Hanson   
Photo: Courtesy of Wildlife SOS 

Photo Caption: An elephant clad in a snappy sweater at Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center.

Remember when that awesome man knit a whole bunch of tiny sweaters for penguins recovering after an oil spill? This is sort of like that, but a lot … bigger.

Staff at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in the northern Indian city of Mathura have been working together to handmake extra-large sweaters for the pachyderms in their care, in light of this winter’s severely cold weather.

Making one of the gigantic sweaters takes four weeks, so only three elephants have them so far, Wildlife SOS co-founder Kartick Satyanarayan told The Dodo. In the meantime, the rest are making do with gigantic blankets.

The center cares for 20 elephants, rescued from wildlife traffickers, abusive circuses and other harmful circumstances. In some cases, elephants who have suffered cruelty are more vulnerable to the cold, Satyanarayan said in a statement.

“It is important to keep our elephants protected from the bitter cold during this extreme winter, as they are weak and vulnerable having suffered so much abuse making them susceptible to ailments such as pneumonia,” he said.

Satyanarayan added that many of the elephants also suffer from arthritis, which can be aggravated by the cold.

The weather at the center is “comparatively sunny during the daytime,” but the temperatures drop significantly at night, spokeswoman Arinita Sandilya told The Huffington Post in an email. That, in addition to the physical labor involved with caring for elephants, is why the people in the photos are wearing T-shirts.

Read the original and view the photos here.