Health Highlights: Sept. 12, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Camels May Be Linked to Deadly Respiratory Virus in People

There is growing evidence that camels are the most likely bridge in the transmission of a lethal respiratory virus between bats and humans.

The virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has not been detected in camels, but antibodies that react to the virus have been found in the blood of camels in Sudan, Egypt, Oman and the Canary Islands, The New York Times reported.

The presence of the antibodies suggests that these camels have recovered from infection with the MERS virus or a closely-related virus.

Many of the 114 people known to have had MERS had no contact with camels, but the first confirmed or suspected cases in three separate clusters of patients may have had contact with the animals, and in two cases, the camels appeared to be ill, The Times reported.

One case involved a 38-year-old man in Saudi Arabia who was a camel dealer with at least one obviously sick camel. The man died of what was diagnosed as bacterial pneumonia, but other members of his family later became ill and were diagnosed with MERS, and two of them died, according to the Saudi newspaper Asharq.

In another case, a 73-year-old man in Abu Dhabi became ill shortly after contact with a sick racing camel in his stable. The first confirmed case of MERS was a man in Saudi Arabia who had four pet camels.

Surveillance for the MERS virus in the Middle East is inadequate, Henry Niman, a Pittsburgh biochemist who tracks viral mutations, told The Times. He said too few camels are being tested in countries with human cases of MERS, and people in poor countries who fall ill with what might be MERS are not being tested.

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Brain-Eating Parasite Survivor Goes Home

A 12-year-old girl who beat the odds by surviving an infection with a brain-eating parasite went home on Wednesday.

Kali Hardig contracted the infection nine weeks ago at an Arkansas water park that has since closed, ABC News reported.

There have been 128 known infections like Kali's in the United States in the past 50 years, and she is the only third person to survive that particular form of parasitic meningitis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kali underwent intensive therapy at Arkansas Children's Hospital and takes special medication flown in from Germany. However, doctors said it was the speed with which her mother, Traci Hardig, brought her to the hospital that made all the difference, ABC News reported.

The girl's doctor said it's hoped that Kali will return to school on Sept. 16 for the first half of the day, and continue therapy in the second half of the day.

MedicalNews
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