camels could be one of the vectors of transmission of the new coronavirus MERS to man, according to a study published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet. Appeared last year in the Middle East, coronavirus has infected 94 people, of which 46 died, according to the latest figures provided last week by the World Health Organization (WHO).
virus antibodies in camels
Researchers suspect for some time bats to be at the origin of the new coronavirus, but believe that to transmit the virus to humans probably used intermediate hosts. To test this hypothesis, an international team of researchers led by Dr. Chantal Reusken Netherlands studied blood samples of 349 animals, mainly camels, cows and goats from several countries, including Oman, the Netherlands Netherlands, Spain and Chile.
coronavirus antibody MERS were found in the serology of 50 camels originating in Oman, and to a lesser extent those of a hundred camels originating in the Canary Islands, an area in which the new coronavirus had never been reported. “The presence of antibodies means that these camels were in contact with the virus or a very similar virus,” told AFP Marion Koopmans, one of the researchers, but said they did not know when was the contact. “We also need to find the virus before we can say with certainty that it is the same one that infects humans,” she added.
reservoirs of virus
For researchers, the discovery of antibodies “suggests that camels could be one of the reservoirs of the virus that causes disease in humans.” Camels are popular in the Middle East where they are used as racing animals, but also for their meat and milk. Further studies are needed, both in humans and in animals, the researchers warn, to see if the transmission is by contact or ingestion of products from infected camels, camel milk as such.
new coronavirus is transmitted to the relatively far from patient to patient and mainly affects people already weakened by chronic diseases or compromised immune systems. It causes respiratory problems, pneumonia and rapid kidney failure. “The greatest mystery of the outbreak of coronavirus MERS was how people could be infected by a virus present in the bat and why the Middle East. Showing that camels had been in contact with the virus or with a virus similar, researchers may have contributed to answer the two questions at once, “says the other hand Dr. Benjamin Neuman, University of Reading, UK Kingdom.