MERS virus found in dromedary camels

Researchers have found signs of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in dromedary camels, according to a report in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The discovery of specific antibodies in the animals' blood suggests they encountered MERS-CoV, or a close variant that may be one source of the virus that is causing MERS in humans, wrote Chantal Reusken, PhD, and colleagues from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands.

Analyzing the samples for antibodies specific to MERS-CoV, as well as the SARS coronavirus, and the related HCoV-OC43, the group found no evidence of cross-reactivity between the viruses based on virus neutralization tests.

Antibodies specific to MERS-CoV were found in all 50 serum samples taken from dromedary camels throughout Oman, but none from other countries except Spain. Lower levels of MERS-CoV-specific antibodies were also found in 14% of serum samples taken from two herds of dromedaries totaling 105 camels in the Canary Islands.

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