Saturday, 10 August 2013

Camels May Be Link to Deadly MERS Virus

A potential source of the new Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus has been identified: camels may be a carrier of the virus, according to a new study.

Blood tests of 50 dromedary (one hump) camels in Oman, a country in the Arabian peninsula, found that all had developed antibodies against the MERS virus, a sign that the camels may have been infected in the past with the MERS virus, or a very similar one, the researchers said. However, the actual virus was not found in the animals.

“These new results suggest that dromedary camels may be one reservoir of the virus that is causing [MERS infection] in humans,” the study researchers, from National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, said in a statement. “Dromedary camels are a popular animal species in the Middle East, where they are used for racing, and also for meat and milk, so there are different types of contact of humans with these animals that could lead to transmission of a virus,” the researchers said.

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