Camels ask for MERS(y): new study confirms animals' link to disease
Scientists have confirmed this week that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus that has infected and killed 71 people is indeed linked--and can infect--camels as well, according to Reuters.
The group of researchers, from the the Netherlands and Qatar, used gene-sequencing to test whether a camel on a Qatar farm was infected with MERS after two people residing on the farm confirmed their infection. The discovery has "strengthened suspicions" that camels may be the source of the virus and the subsequent human outbreak of the disease.
However, the researchers have cautioned that it may "be too early" to say for sure whether the humped animals are definitely the source, saying that much more research is needed.
“This is definitive proof that camels can be infected with MERS-CoV, but based on the current data we cannot conclude whether the humans on the farm were infected by the camels or vice versa,” said Bart Haagmans of Rotterdam’s Erasmus Medical Centre, who served as the Principal Investigator of the study.
According to Haagmans, there is also the possibility that the camels and humans could be "infected from a third as yet unknown source."
The study's results were published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Tuesday.