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MERS virus jumped several times from animals to humans

More than one person caught new illness from bats, camels or other creatures

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5:22pm, September 19, 2013

The virus that causes the mysterious and deadly new disease called Middle East respiratory syndrome may have first appeared in animals in July 2011 and then infected people multiple times. People then transmitted the virus to others, a new analysis suggests.

The illness called MERS was identified last year and has sickened 132 people, killing 58 of them, mostly in Saudi Arabia. Both bats and camels are possible carriers of the coronavirus that causes the disease, but neither is the definitive animal source of human infections.

Scientists wondered whether the virus jumped from animals to humans once or many times. To find out, Ziad Memish of the Ministry of Health in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and colleagues took MERS virus DNA directly from the noses and throats of 21 patients from different parts of Saudi Arabia. 

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