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New Evidence Strengthens Case for Camel-to-Human MERS-CoV Transmission — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
June 5, 2014

New Evidence Strengthens Case for Camel-to-Human MERS-CoV Transmission

By Kelly Young

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and Lorenzo Di Francesco, MD, FACP, FHM

New findings connect human infection with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) back to camels, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

A Saudi man who was hospitalized with MERS-CoV in November 2013 had applied topical medicine inside the nose of one of his camels with rhinorrhea before he himself became ill. Researchers collected samples from the patient and his camels.

MERS-CoV isolates from the patient and the treated camel had identical sequences based on reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR).

The authors write: "The evidence suggests that a dromedary camel was the source of MERS-CoV that infected a patient who had had close contact with the camel's nasal secretions." They conclude: "Camels may act as intermediate hosts that transmit the virus from its reservoir to humans. The exact reservoir that maintains the virus in its ecologic niche has yet to be identified."

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