WORLD › NEWS
Saudi Arabian Camels Carry MERS Virus Since 1992, Study Finds
To date, at least 79 death cases have been reported and 182 people infected with MERS virus since the first documented case in Saudi Arabia in September 2012.
All cases have been associated with Middle Eastern residents or travellers but the source of the disease has remained a mystery, Xinhua news agency reported.
In their study, researchers from King Saud University, Columbia University, EcoHealth Alliance and the U.S. National Institutes of Health found the MERS virus in approximately 75 percent of the samples taken from 203 dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia.
The samples showed that the same MERS virus found in people is present in respiratory secretions of the camels, and camels that tested positive for the virus have no outward signs of the disease.
The researchers also found evidence of the virus dating back to 1992 using camel blood specimens collected and stored between 1992 and 2010,
No evidence of MERS was seen in a similar study of sheep and goats.
"This study is the first to show that the MERS virus seen in humans is widespread in camels throughout Saudi Arabia," first author Abdulaziz Alagaili, director of the Mammals Research Chair at King Saud University, said in a statement.
"This information is crucial for efforts to contain the spread of the disease," Alagaili said.
The researchers found that airborne transmission of the virus between camels is most likely based on a number of clues, including that the virus was more evident in nasal swabs as opposed to rectal specimens, but how humans get infected by the disease is yet to be fully determined.
"What we know now is that camels carry the same MERS virus that infects humans, which indicates that they have the potential to transmit the virus directly to humans," said study co-author Thomas Briese, associate director of the Centre for Infection and Immunity and associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School.
"A study we published last year found that the virus was carried in a bat found near the first known human case of MERS," he said.
"The roles of bats and camels in human infection remains an area of active research for our group and others," said Thomas.
The researchers planned to examine the role of direct or indirect human exposure to camels in future studies of MERS virus infection.
The findings were published in the U.S. journal mBio on Tuesday.
news coverage in our Newswire service.
Previous Top Stories
Other News Headlines
- PKR Replacement Candidate To Be Announced After Meeting - Anwar- politic
- All Eyes On Mas' Missing B777- business
- Chong Wei Sole Malaysian In All-england Badminton Semi-Finals- sports
- Handicraft Maker Immortalises Sarawak's Perahu Tambang- features
- China - Lawmakers, Political Advisers cross Fingers For Missing China-bound Plane- world
Most Read News
Pertubuhan Berita Nasional Malaysia,
Wisma BERNAMA,No 28, Jalan 1/65A,
Off Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel : 603-2693 9933 ( General Line )
E-mel : email@example.com
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form except with the prior written permission of BERNAMA.
Best viewed in Firefox 8.0 & Internet Explorer 8.0 with 1024 x 768 resolution