Zoonotic pathogens of dromedary camels in Kenya: a systematised review

Ellen Clare Hughes, Neil Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Kenya is home to Africa’s third largest population of dromedary camels, and production at commercial and local levels are increasingly important. In pastoral and nomadic communities in
the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), camels play a vital role in food security, while commercial milk production and formalized export markets are rapidly emerging as camel populations expand into non-traditional areas. Until recently, little focus was placed on camels as hosts of zoonotic disease, but the emergence of Middle Eastern respiratory coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012, and the discovery of exposure to the virus in Kenyan camels, highlighted the need for further understanding of this area. This systematised review utilised a robust search strategy to assess the occurrence of camel-associated zoonoses in Kenya and to evaluate the quality of the published literature. Seventyfour studies were identified, covering sixteen pathogens, with an increasing number of good quality studies in recent years. Despite this, the area remains under-researched and there is a lack of robust, high- quality research. Trypanosome spp., Echinococcus granulosus and Brucella spp. appeared most
frequently in the literature. Pathogens with the highest reported prevalence were MERS-CoV (0–100%), Echinococcus granulosa (7–60%) and Rift Valley fever virus (7–57%). Exposure to Brucella spp.,
Coxiella burnetii and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus showed higher levels in camel or camel-associated vectors than other livestock species, although brucellosis was the only disease for which there was robust evidence linking camel and human exposure. Zoonotic agents with less severe human health outcomes, such as Dermatophilosus congolensis and contagious ecthyma, were also represented in the literature. This review provides an important summary of the scope and
quality of current knowledge. It demonstrates that further research, and improved adherence to robust study design and reporting are essential if the zoonotic risk from camels in Kenya, andelsewhere, is to be better understood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2020


  • dromedary
  • camel
  • zoonoses
  • Kenya
  • systematic review


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