CDC Request Regarding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

20 May 2014


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the global situation regarding Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and work with partners to better understand the disease, including potential sources of infection, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented. For more information, please see CDC’s MERS website.


In discussions, camels as a potential source are getting much attention—in fact, several articles have already been published, please reference:


Despite written reports, we really do not know what exactly the relationship is between humans and camels in the Middle East. We have seen reports of camels as production/food animals, pets, for sport/racing, and even in camel “beauty pageants”.


For reference, here are three media reports, with video:


As such, we are writing to seek anthropologic expertise in to how we can learn more about the relationships between humans and these animals in this part of the world.


We are interested in locating individuals who hold particular expertise in, for example, human-animal interface studies with regard to camels, the Middle East, or similar topics, that we may be connected with. Specifically, we are interested in learning more about current Middle Eastern cultural practices and the economic significance of camels.


Please feel free to distribute this notice to colleagues who may have such expertise. Contact information for Dr. Ray Arthur or Dr. Kira Christian appears below. We hope that relevant individuals would be able to participate in follow-up teleconferences or otherwise participate with CDC as needed, including formulating questions for discussion.


Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Drs. Ray Arthur and Kira Christian

Global Disease Detection Operations Center (GDDOC)

Division of Global Health Protection

Center for Global Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop D68

Atlanta, GA 30333

Email (preferred):

Dr. Christian’s mobile: 404.451.6284