The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus was identified in humans for the first time in 2012. It causes severe respiratory tract infections that are often fatal. Dromedaries were confirmed to be its animal source some time ago.
Just like the dreaded MERS, a common cold virus is actually transmitted from camels to humans, a new study reveals.
There are four globally endemic human coronaviruses which, together with rhinoviruses, are responsible for causing common colds.
The researchers found that one of the four common cold coronaviruses - HcoV-229E - originated from camels, just like the MERS virus.
"Our current study gives us a warning sign regarding the risk of a MERS pandemic - because MERS could perhaps do what HCoV-229E did," said one of the researchers Christian Drosten from University Hospital of Bonn. "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 6% of the cases," Drosten said.
Further comparative molecular genetic analysis of common cold viruses in bats, humans and dromedaries suggests that this common cold virus was actually transmitted from camels to humans, said the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences