Science in Action

BBC World Service


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The latest science research and news stories from all over the world.


Are Camels the Source of Mers?

June 11th, 2015

Episode 40 of 118 episodes

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or Mers virus is causing chaos in South Korea. The main focus of infections is the Arabian Peninsula, although sporadic cases have cropped up around the world. What caused Mers to emerge in humans is still a contentious issue. Recent evidence puts juvenile dromedary camels in the frame. Are there wider issues around camel husbandry and the international trade of these beasts that might point a way to eradicating this disease? Contacting Isolated Peoples In Peru and Brazil communities of 'uncontacted' groups of people living in the Amazon forest have increasingly been emerging from their self-isolation and contacting the indigenous groups around them. These unplanned interactions bring serious health risks to these isolated communities who have little to no immunity against common illnesses like the common cold. These contact events raise interesting questions about the ethics of planned contact by governments, anthropologists and health officials. We explore the many facets of this controversial area. Pumping Water to Cause Earthquakes Hydraulic fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock and its being widely used in the USA. Some question the safety of this practice and blame fracking for increasing localised earthquakes and tremors. It turns out it is not the fracking, but the disposal of the waste water used in the process that causes the earth to shake. Now a team of scientists in France are actually causing their own mini-fracking type earthquakes, by pumping water into faults in the Earth’s crust and hoping their experiments will help control and prevent major future earthquakes. (Photo caption: A Saudi wears a mouth and nose mask as he leads camels at his farm outside Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has urged its citizens and foreign workers to wear masks and gloves when dealing with camels to avoid spreading the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus as health experts said the animal was the likely source of the disease FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images) Presenter: Jack Stewart Producer: Fiona Roberts