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Camels could be the source of MERS coronavirus, research finds

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5052 (Published 09 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5052
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Camels could be a reservoir of a respiratory virus that has been circulating in the Middle East and has been implicated in 46 deaths, an international team of researchers has found.1

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first detected last year. Previous research has shown that the virus can replicate in cell lines from bats (believed to be the source of the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2002-03), but bats are thought unlikely to be the source of the MERS outbreak. And since human to human transmission of MERS appears rare, public health researchers have been looking for an alternative animal reservoir.

Chantal Reusken, of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, and colleagues, said that dromedary camels may be the culprits. They …

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