New studies have found that camels may be the cause of the deadly outbreak of MERS. The virus began showing up last year in Saudi Arabia, and it is highly likely that those that contracted the virus actually did so from camels with one hump. In that part of the world, these animals are used for milk, meat, racing and transport.
One study examined the type of animal carrier that may be causing humans to become ill, and found that there is strong evidence to link the virus to dromedary camels throughout the Middle East. The virus is called The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, or MERS-CoV. It causes fever, coughing, pneumonia and has been confirmed in people from France, the Gulf, Italy, Britain, Germany and Tunisia.
According to WHO, 46 of the 94 total confirmed cases have been fatal, with most of them occurring in Saudi Arabia. According to Chantal Reusken, with the National Institute of Public Health and Environment, in Bilthoven, the Netherlands and author of the study, new cases of MERS-CoV keep emerging and there seem to be no sources of the virus, except for those that became ill from other people with the virus. This suggests that dromedary camels may be one source of infection.
She has also said that there are different types of contact between humans and these animals that have the potential to lead to virus transmission.
Some experts that have not been involved in the study have said that the findings help with a significant step toward answering the MERS virus question, and finding a way to control it.
The World Health Organization has been welcoming to the study, but has said that it hasn’t offered any information about how humans contract the virus. Most of those that have had the disease were infected through others that had it, and most of those that did not get the virus from humans were not in contact with camels.
The spokesman for WHO, Tarik Jasarevic has said that the study shows that the camels have antibodies, which means that camels have battled the infection at some time, which produces antibodies. He said that in order to be certain that it is the same strain of MERS Coronavirus as humans have, it will be necessary to find the actual virus, not just antibodies. He has said that it would be the next step in controlling the virus.
It is also possible that other animals are infected, as well.
It appears that there is much more studying of the virus that will need to be done to determine the exact cause of it, but many in the medical field feel that this is a potentially strong link to a frightfully serious outbreak.