The Sars-like virus that has infected 94 people who have lived in or had links to the Middle East, and killed almost half of them – including a 38-year-old man who died in the UK reportedly after exposure to a relative who visited Mecca, Saudi Arabia – could have come from camels, research suggests. Until now, there have been few clues as to how people had come to be infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, MERS-CoV, although the virus has similarities to a strain in pipistrelle bats. But bats, shy and nocturnal creatures, have been thought to be an unlikely source of human infection. Now scientific detective work is suggesting a more plausible animal reservoir. A team of researchers led by Chantal Reusken, of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, tested blood samples from a range of domestic animals, including cattle, sheep and goats. They and drew a blank until they came to dromedary camels. Tests on a group of 50 retired racing camels in Oman proved 100% positive. Every camel had antibodies in its blood that suggested it had at some point been in contact with MERS-CoV. The animals came… Read full this story
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