M.A. Al-Dubaib1, A. Al-Swailem2, G. Al-Ghamdi3, E. Al-Yamani2, A.A. Al-Naeem3,A.M. Al-Mejali3, M. Shehata2, M. Hashad1, D.A. El-Lithy1 and O.M. Mahmoud1
1College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Qassim University, 2 King Abdulaziz City for Science and
Technology, 3College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resources, King Faisal University, Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia
Following reports on the emergence of a new neurological disease in camels at the north-eastern region of Saudi Arabia, a study was carried out to investigate the magnitude of the problem and to identify its etiologic agent. Based on results of a questionnaire study, the disease appeared for the first time during the rainy season in the year 2004. It affected she-camels of 3 years or more and was limited to those herds that had been grazing the Dubduba area of north-eastern Saudi Arabia. For this reason the disease has been given the name “Dubduba syndrome” by the investigation team. The disease was sporadic, affecting 1 or 2 camels in the herd at a time, but the mortality rate in those affected animals was very high (>90%). The clinical signs were fever, Parkinsons-like tremors of the head, paralysis of the lower lip, motor paralysis, recumbency and animals usually died within 3-5 days of appearance of symptoms. Three camels that died of the disease were autopsied. Congestion and haemorrhages were evident in the brain and meninges. Congestion, haemorrhages and necrosis were seen in the liver, kidneys, heart and stomach. Histopathological examination of the brain and spinal cord showed non-purulent meningoencephalomyelitis, nerve cell necrosis, gliosis and presence of intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies in the nerve cells. The liver was massively fatty degenerated and necrotic. Coagulation necrosis was seen in the renal tubular epithelium which also contained intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies. Since the histopathological findings of Dubduba disease supported a virus infection, virus isolation was attempted on SPF embryonated eggs and laboratory rats but the results were negative. Immunohistochemical studies on paraffin tissue-sections of the brain were negative for the following viruses that are likely to cause the above lesions i.e. Rabies, Crimean-Congo fever, Equine herpse, West Nile Fever (WNF), Panflavivirus, paramyxovirus and Rift Valley Fever. Listeriosis was also negative. A novel viral encephalitis disease was most likely to be the cause of Dubduba syndrome of camels.
Key words: Camel, Dubduba syndrome, hepatitis, meningo-encephalomyelitis