Not Only MERS Comes from Camels



Not only MERS comes from camels

There was a research work published in the August issue of reputable PNAS magazine (Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America), with its authors reporting that MERS-CoV is not the only zoonotic virus having its source in dromedary camels. It turned out that the said animal species may also be the reservoir of the prototype of HCoV-229E virus, which is one of the four coronaviruses to cause the diseases of human upper respiratory tract, typically being categorised as the cases of a cold.

According to the scientists' findings, the prototype of HCoV-229E was not initially capable of effectively spreading among humans. It would only contribute to the appearance of regional disease outbreaks that were quick to disappear. However, it gradually evolved into the form of a virus that is currently responsible for causing between 8% and 15% of cases of a cold in humans.

The origins of the story concerning HCoV-229E closely resemble the present events related to the viral infections with MERS. This is precisely the said resemblance that is viewed as a potential source of threat by scientists, as approximately 36% of people infected with MERS die. Considering the possibility of the virus increasing its adaptation capabilities with regard to its human host organisms, the likelihood of a pandemic scenario becomes higher than previously thought.

According to the data presented by WHO, 1800 people developed MERS symptoms so far, out of whom 640 died. The outbreaks of this disease were reported in 27 countries.


Original paper: V.M Corman i in., Link of a ubiquitous human coronavirus to dromedary camels, PNAS, 2016.
Image credits: Serge Bertasius Photography
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