The team of researchers from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment and Erasmus University in The Netherlands revealed that dromedary camels might be the source of deadly Mers coronavirus which emerged in the year 2012.
The tests conducted during the research found that the Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus or the closely related viruses were circulating in animals and these could be the route for spread of the virus. The researchers however explained that further research was required for establishing this study.
The Mers coronavirus emerged for the first time in the year 2012 in the Middle East. More and more cases of this virus spreading among the humans have been reported and most of these are a result of contact with the animals.
In order to conduct the study, the international team investigated the blood samples of livestock animals, which included cows, goats, sheep and camel. These samples were collected from various countries. These were then tested for antibodies, which can remain in blood for a long time even after the virus has gone.
Professor Marion Koopmans, from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment and Erasmus University in the Netherlands explained that there was the presence of antibodies in dromedary camels which were specifically related with Mers coronavirus or a virus which were similar to Mers coronavirus.
The team of researchers found that there was low level of the antibodies in 15 out of 105 camels from Canary Islands. High levels of antibodies were found in all the 50 camels tested in Oman, which indicated that virus was circulating in the camels more recently. It is important to note that human cases of Mers virus have not been reported till now in Canary Islands or Oman. The researchers explained that more tests needed to be conducted widely in order to find out whether infection was found anywhere else or not. In next tests, the researchers will take the samples from Saudi Arabia, where this virus was more prevalent.
It is yet to be found out how human beings get infected because of this virus. The study about this was published in Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
What is Mers?
• MERS: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is a New Respiratory Virus related to SARS spread in Saudi Arabia A new respiratory virus related to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) has killed 39 people in Saudi Arabia.
• Scientists have named this respiratory virus as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The new virus is related to the respiratory virus SARS that killed more than 800 people across the world in 2003. It belongs to a family of viruses that most often cause the common cold. SARS emerged in China.
• As per the data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) the MERS coronavirus that emerged in 2012 has killed 45 deaths across the world.
• The identified symptoms of MERS include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhoea and vomiting.
• The cases of MERS have been identified in the Middle East - with patients in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Few cases related to it were also seen in France, Italy, Germany, Tunisia and the United Kingdom.