Camels in Saudi Arabia teeming with MERS virus

Most animals tested had signs of infection that can be deadly in people

12:05am, February 25, 2014

LAST STRAW  Three-quarters of dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia show signs of MERS coronavirus infections, further evidence that the humped animals are a possible source of the deadly virus. 

Three-quarters of dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia have been infected with the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to the most thorough survey of the animals there. The finding adds to mounting evidence that camels are a source of the deadly infections in humans.

In September 2012, health experts isolated the first human case of MERS coronavirus, which was discovered in Saudi Arabia and is related to the SARS virus. Since then, the World Health Organization has reported 182 cases and 79 deaths while researchers have scrambled to identify a source of the infections. So far, scientists have found signs that camels and bats harbor the virus (SN Online: 8/8/13SN: 9/21/13, p. 18), which causes severe pneumonia in humans.

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