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article imageMERS-camel link is not so clear cut

By Tim Sandle     Jun 14, 2014 in Science
A widely reported connection between a man who died from MERS and a camel that he owned might not be so. There is a possibility that laboratory contamination occurred.
Last week Digital Journal reported on some scientific research that concluded a camel-cornonavirus connection. According to a paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a 44-year-old man who died of a lab-confirmed MERS infection had the same virus as was found in a camel that he owned.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has questioned the link between the man’s virus and a sample taken from the man’s own camel. Instead the connection may have been the result of laboratory contamination. Talking to The Scientist, Osterholm is quoted as saying: "It really is a sign of the overall scientific investigation dysfunction that has occurred to date in Saudi Arabia."
In addition, Ian Mackay, a virologist at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia, in Australia has said in his blog: "It typifies what MERS has been all about: very poor communication."
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). MERS causes fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It has a 30 percent morality rate.
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