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article imageAre camels linked to MERS?

By Tim Sandle     Nov 17, 2013 in Science
A Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) patient’s pet camel has tested positive for the coronavirus. This has re-opened the debate over how the virus is being spread.
Digital Journal reports have suggested that the most likely candidate for spreading the flu-like virus MERS is bats. Whilst bats remain a possible candidate, some new findings direct a connection towards camels.
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is one of the latest problem viruses to have emerged this decade. MERS-CoV is the sixth new type of coronavirus like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Coronaviruses are so called because they have crown-like projections on their surfaces. "Corona" in Latin means "crown" or "halo." Symptoms of MERS-CoV infection include renal failure and severe acute pneumonia, which often result in a fatal outcome.
In Saudi Arabia, two new cases of MERS were confirmed during November, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These cases bring the global total of MERS infections to 153, including 64 deaths. According to the BBC, a pet camel belonging to one of the new MERS cases in Saudi Arabia has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Saudi government is working to assess whether the viral strain from the camel matches the strain found in the human patient. If so proven, this could have serious implications for the control of the virus.
According to the news magazine, The Scientist, finding and confirming the animal reservoir of MERS is important to eradicating it.
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