Friday, 26 August 2016

Humans caught the common cold from camels, scientists discover

Experts warn the success of the cold virus in spreading across the world shows the potential for a pandemic by the deadly MERS virus, which also came from camels

Ian Johnston Science Correspondent 
Friday 19 August 2016

The first human to catch a cold appears to have got it from a camel, according to new research.

It means the common cold originates from the same animal as the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS.

Researchers at the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany had been investigating MERS when they made the unexpected discovery.

Professor Christian Drosten, one of the team, said: “In our MERS investigations, we examined about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and were surprised to find pathogens that are related to ‘HCoV-229E’, the human common cold virus, in almost six per cent of the cases."

The scientists took samples of the camels’ cold viruses and discovered that they were capable of infecting humans, according to a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But tests showed there was no apparent danger of a new cold epidemic because our immune system was already primed against it by the human version of the disease.

A number of human diseases are thought to have initially infected other animals before mutating genetically by chance to give them characteristics that enable them to infect humans.

Influenza, for example, is thought to have made the jump from birds to humans several times in the past. The initial outbreaks can be severe because humans may not have any immunity. The so-called Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 is estimated to have killed three to five per cent of the world’s population.

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