New monkey model of severe Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection has been established by NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases researchers.
The same NIAID group in December 2012 developed the first animal model of MERS-CoV infection using rhesus macaques. That model has proven difficult to use for evaluating potential treatments because it mimics mild to moderate human disease, and the animals quickly recover from infection. Several research groups are working to develop mouse models of MERS-CoV infection, but they have yet to establish a severe disease model.
The MERS outbreak, which began in 2012, continues throughout the Middle East. Since the outbreak began, NIAID researchers have focused on understanding how the virus causes disease and how it can be treated effectively. As of July 23rd, the World Health Organization has reported a total of 837 human cases of MERS-CoV infection, including at least 291 deaths.