Keep MERS Away by Laying Off the Camel Pee: WHO

Yes, this is a tip that the World Health Organization is offering
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2015 11:56 AM CDT
Keep MERS Away by Laying Off the Camel Pee: WHO
This June 2013 photo shows camels resting in sand dunes on a sunset ride in Erg Chebbi, Morocco, at the edge of the Saharan desert.   (AP Photo/Giovanna Dell’Orto)

The MERS outbreak that's spread into South Korea has killed at least 10, sickened more than 120, and forced about 2,600 schools to shut down there, the AP reports. But South Korean officials believe the disease has peaked in the country, and the World Health Organization is offering up useful tips for those who wish to avoid contracting it, Foreign Policy reports. There's one nugget of advice, though, that stands out from the more banal ones, such as washing one's hands and not eating raw meat, and it's a tip that will likely be easy for most of us to follow: Don't drink camel urine. But that recommendation, which is accompanied by a warning to also not indulge in camel milk, isn't as outlandish as it might seem, Foreign Policy notes.

The CDC, for example, has a category on its MERS information page dedicated solely to "People With Exposure to Camels," noting that while scientists don't yet know for sure how people contract MERS, there have been people in close contact with camels who've come down with the disease. And Foreign Policy points to a long tradition in the Middle East dating back to the Prophet Muhammad of quaffing the excreted liquid for "allegedly palliative properties." Most people who've read one Vice writer's review of drinking camel urine while in Yemen probably won't contract the disease this way, though, as the writer's warning will likely inspire a healthy level of wariness: "The taste of warm piss is, as you would expect, disgusting. But when it's mixed with camel milk, as it traditionally is, it's even worse." (Cow-pee soda is a big hit with some Hindus in India.)

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