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Fact check: No evidence linking ‘spot the camel’ and Alzheimer’s risk

Social media users have been sharing an image online that shows a composition of animals resembling a face and claiming that spotting the camel in the image means the viewer will not develop Alzheimer’s for a long time. There is no evidence to support this and the Alzheimer’s Association confirmed it isn’t a verified way to test a patient. The implications of the posts - that everyone will develop Alzheimer’s eventually and that if you don’t spot the camel you will develop Alzheimer’s soon - are also false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

Examples can be seen  here  and  here  .

One post’s caption  here  reads: “Doctors say if you can find the camel, you are way away from getting Alzheimer’s.

The posts do not cite a source or give any information about the doctors mentioned.

Some versions of this image  here  and  here  , do not include the camel and instead ask the user to count how many animals are visible. In the versions which do feature the camel, which is very small, it is visible on the right side by the horse’s rear leg.

Reuters was not able to find the original creator of the image. A search on TinEye, an image search and recognition tool, revealed that it has been circulating since at least February 2008  here  .

The image is reminiscent of the artwork of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who created portraits by composing different animals and objects  here .

The Alzheimer’s Association lists the warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s on its website  here  .

This includes memory loss that disrupts daily life, challenges in planning or solving problems, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion about time or place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, new problems with words in speaking or writing, misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps, decreased or poor judgement, withdrawal from work or social activities and changes in mood and personality.

The association explains  here  that Alzheimer’s develops “as a result of complex interactions among multiple factors” including age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and medical conditions.

There is no evidence that spotting a camel in an image means that a person will not develop Alzheimer’s for a long time.

Heather Snyder PhD, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, told Reuters via email that the claim is false. “The image depicted has not been tested in research studies to determine if it is a valid or reliable method for detecting or diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease,” Snyder added. “There is not a simple, accurate test available today that can determine if someone will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”

Snyder said that physicians use a variety of approaches to make a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. These can include neurological exams, mental status tests, brain imaging and more, as explained  here  .

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence that not spotting a camel in this image reveals that the viewer will develop Alzheimer’s.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         

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