The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority's (ADAFSA) Collaborating Centre for Camel Diseases, recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), has continued its efforts in scientific research, diagnostic techniques for epidemic animal diseases, including camel diseases, capacity building, and sharing scientific knowledge related to camel diseases.

Over the past two years, the centre has provided laboratory analysis services for more than 100,000 samples, totalling over 500,000 analyses for various diseases collected from camels. It has also developed more than 150 advanced laboratory analyses enabling accurate identification of pathogens, supporting strategic plans for the prevention, control of epidemic diseases and food security.

To support efforts in One Health and Biosecurity Systems, the centre has actively addressed coronavirus pandemics by developing methods, analysis kits, guidelines and control procedures, earning international recognition for its endeavours in this field.

The centre has also established the first biobank of reference materials for the conservation of biological isolates and specialised tissue culture cells from camels. This biobank will improve disease control, vaccine development, diagnostic kits, laboratory analysis methods, scientific research and training.

The centre has confirmed diagnoses and identification of genetic strains for 15 pathogens using the latest molecular diagnostic techniques. It has also contributed to the identification of genes responsible for bacterial resistance to antibiotics, with a focus on combating antimicrobial resistance. The centre continuously conducts antibiotic susceptibility tests for bacterial isolates from camels and provides recommendations on optimum antibiotics to be used for the treatment, promotes awareness on antibiotic use, and participates in international conferences and provides consultations to international organisations on biosecurity and public health.

To enhance diagnostic capabilities, the centre is updating the sequencing facilities, a key pillar for diagnosing diseases in camels and other animals. This will enable disease mapping in the country, facilitating effective disease control and management in the animals.

In collaboration with laboratories from various countries, the centre has launched the first programme to evaluate the efficacy of PPR serology diagnosis in camels and has also developed reference bacterial, parasitological, and histopathological educational kits for veterinary students and researchers to enhance diagnostic skills and veterinary education.

The centre has also published over 30 scientific papers specialising in animal and human diseases (from a One Health perspective) in reputable scientific journals. The papers have been cited in more than 500 published scientific papers.

The Middle East Camel Network platform (CAMENET) was also established, encompassing GCC countries, as well as Jordan and Yemen. Its aim is to boost communication and knowledge exchange among these nations to serve camel health and production.

The platform seeks to enhance capabilities, conduct epidemiological surveys for camel diseases, create disease maps, devise plans to combat diseases, develop the animal wealth sector, and enhance diagnostic capabilities and quality systems. More than 500 trainees have undergone training via the CAMENET platform to enhance member states capabilities in disease diagnosis and quality systems development in veterinary laboratories.

Asma Abdi, Director of the Biosecurity Affairs Division at ADAFSA, said the centre will continue working on developing vaccines against camel diseases, enhancing its risk assessment and early pathogen and epidemic detection capabilities. The centre will also support university veterinary education institutions to build specialised national cadres with distinguished scientific competence in animal diseases and care, particularly for camels. This contributes to the sustainability of the agricultural sector and strengthens the biosecurity system.

Abdi emphasised that the centre has emerged as a leading model in camel disease diagnosis and animal health management, enhancing biosecurity at local, regional and global levels. This underscores the UAE's role in promoting animal health and biosecurity.

Abdi said that the physiological and genetic characteristics of camels, combined with limited studies and specialised research, can make it difficult to understand the development and emergence of diseases. This complicates the diagnosis of camel diseases and requires increased efforts in research and specialised scientific studies to detect viral, bacterial, parasitic, and fungal pathogens in camels that cause death and economic losses in this sector. The centre serves as a specialised scientific reference to address these challenges.