There is new, more definitive evidence implicating camels in the ongoing outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.
Scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, King Saud University, and EcoHealth Alliance extracted a complete, live, infectious sample of MERS coronavirus from two camels in Saudi Arabia. The sample matched MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) found in humans, indicating that the virus in camels is capable of infecting humans and that camels are a likely source of the outbreak.
Results appear online in the journal mBio.
The researchers examined nasal samples collected during a countrywide survey of dromedary camels and selected samples from two animals with the highest viral load. They cultured and obtained complete genomic sequence from both animals as well as virus in nasal samples from several other camels.
The mathematical means of all genetic sequences (the consensus genomic sequences) were consistent with viruses found in human cases; however, samples from camels contained more than one virus genotype. Over a period of 48 hours of culture in primate cells, the genomic variation of viruses narrowed, mirroring the lower sequence diversity reported in MERS-CoV found in humans.
"The finding of infectious virus strengthens the argument that dromedary camels are reservoirs for MERS-CoV," says first author Thomas Briese, PhD, associate director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. "The narrow range of MERS viruses in humans and a very broad range in camels may explain in part the why human disease is uncommon: because only a few genotypes are capable of cross species transmission," adds Dr. Briese.
"Given these new data, we are now investigating potential routes for human infection through exposure to camel milk or meat products," says co-author Abdulaziz N. Alagaili, PhD, director of the Mammals Research Chair at King Saud University. "This report builds on work published earlier this year when our team found that three-quarters of camels in Saudi Arabia carry MERS virus."
To date, at least 300 people have been infected with the virus that causes MERS and approximately 100 have died since the first documented case in Saudi Arabia in September 2012. Of these, more than 60—about one-fourth of the global total since MERS was identified—have been reported in the past month. Most cases have been in Saudi Arabia, with lower numbers in Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and more recently Malaysia and the Philippines, have also reported cases related to travel to the Middle East. While human-to-human transmission has occurred, the source of the disease in most cases has remained a mystery.
"Although there is no evidence that MERS-CoV is becoming more transmissible, the recent increase in reported cases is a cause for concern," says senior author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. "It is essential that investigators commit to data and sample sharing so that this potential threat to global health is addressed by the entire biomedical research community."
W. Ian Lipkin, MD, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School, is the study's senior author. Additional co-authors include Nischay Mishra and Komal Jain at CII; Iyad S.Zalmout and Osama B. Mohammed at KSU Mammals Research Chair; Omar J. Jabado at the Icahn Medical Institute; and William B. Karesh and Peter Daszak at EcoHealth Alliance.
The KSU Mammals Research Chair is supported by the Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University. Work in the Center for Infection and Immunity and EcoHealth Alliance is supported by awards from the National Institutes of Health (AI057158) and the United States Agency for International Development's Emerging Pandemic Threat Program, PREDICT project, under terms of Cooperative Agreement Number GHN-A-OO-09-00010-00.
Timothy S. Paul | Eurek Alert!
Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Life Sciences
17.08.2017 | Materials Sciences