Around 75% of the camels recently surveyed in Saudi Arabia have been found to be infected with the MERS coronavirus which is responsible for human cases of MERS. Results of the new study establish for the first time that direct camel-to-human transmission is possible and provide a pathway to control the spread of the disease.
Results in the journal mBio
are reported by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health; Mammals Research Chair, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health; and EcoHealth Alliance.
To date, at least 182 people have been infected with the virus that causes MERS and 79 have died since the first documented case in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Since then, most cases have been in Saudi Arabia, with lower numbers in Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom have also reported cases related to travel to the Middle East. So far the source of the disease has remained a mystery.