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!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy