Saudi Arabian farmers are kissing their camels to prove that they’re not to blame for the recent spread of MERS. MERS is the newest virus scare, and for good reason. Out of the 571 confirmed cases, 171 of those people have died, The Washington Post reports.
MERS may be even deadlier and more serious than SARS. Despite the scary statistics, farmers in Saudi Arabia (where almost 500 of the MERS cases have been found) aren’t afraid, and have started a new viral trend on Twitter and YouTube: kissing their camels.
Camels are thought to be one of the main causes behind the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the virus has been found in many of the camels tested. With 900,000 camels in the country, it’s pretty hard to avoid them, but the Saudi government is taking measures. A campaign to stop people from eating raw camel meat and drinking unpasteurized camel milk was recently started.
Cynthia Gorney wrote in National Geographic, ”Camels in the kingdom are like dairy cows, beef cows, racehorses, pulling horses, beloved Labradors, and living daily reminders of holy scripture, all in one,” which may explain why people are so comfortable kissing them.
In a YouTube video with over 11,000 views, a Saudi Arabian man is shown stroking and kissing his camels and even asks them to sneeze in his face. Scientists aren’t entirely sure how MERS is being spread, but getting sneezed on by a camel probably isn’t the smartest idea no matter how skeptical of a deadly virus you may be.