Mystery Illness Kills Camels

Saudi government denies contagious disease is behind it
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2007 11:10 AM CDT
Mystery Illness Kills Camels
A camel racer stands by his camel before the start of his race during the three -day 6th Sharqeya Camel Race Festival at the outskirts of the city of BelbeIs, Egypt Monday, Aug. 6, 2007. The racers from Arab countries are competing in the eight track races in categories that are controlled by track...   (Associated Press)

In Saudi Arabia, hundreds of camels have suddenly died for unknown reasons—232  were counted in the last four days in the Dawasir Valley, 250 miles south of Riyadh, Reuters reports. The Agriculture Ministry denies that an infectious disease is behind the deaths and blames problems with animal feed. Owners have been promised compensation for the lost animals, which are big business in the desert.

"The disease has to be limited to one place to stop it spreading and then they have to find a serum," demanded one camel breeder. "They need to bring in help from abroad to find a solution," added a trader. Camels are worth thousands of dollars and are used for transport and racing, and provide meat and milk. (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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